Williamson Park and the gloriously self-indulgent Ashton Memorial overlook the city of Lancaster; from here, the Castle can be clearly seen. The Park comprises over fifty acres of woodland but the focal point is the Memorial, a white dome which can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. This is a popular place for recreation and relaxation, even though locals are aware that it is also the site of the ancient Gallows Hill, where prisoners were brought from the Castle to meet their deaths.
The exact spot of execution is not marked, but it was here, with that glorious view, that the Pendle Witches were hanged on August 20th 1612. It is thought that the hanging was carried out by putting the noose around the prisoner’s neck while they stood on the cart which brought them there, which would then be moved away, leaving them dangling.
Anne Chattox died here, as did Anne Redfern, Jane and John Bullock, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, Isobel Robey and Elizabeth, James and Alison Device. Elizabeth Southerns would doubtless have died here also, had she not expired in the misery of her cell at Lancaster Castle. Their bodies would have been buried near this place, but as they were judged to be witches they were not given a Christian burial, nor was their resting-place marked.
(copyright & photo credit Melanie Warren 2013)