A SONG inspired by the 17th-century east of Scotland witch trials has been released by a descendant of one of the women executed.

But musician Jo Beth Young, who lives in the west of Ireland, says she discovered the family connection only after she had written the single, called The Spell.

She said: “My dad is from Coldingham and all our family are buried there going back hundreds of years.

“Some years ago, I found out that a few young women from Selkirk had been charged with witchcraft.

“I have always had an interest in that era, and the song is an acceptance that, even if we kill someone who has an idea we don’t agree with, the idea will continue in another person and carry on.”

It was only after the single was written, with folk group Nightsong, that Jo Beth discovered that one of the women executed, Issobell Young, who lived in East Barns, near Dunbar, was probably a relation.

Jo Beth, 43, said: “When I later discovered the story of Issobell Young, who is very likely an ancestor, I was amazed to see in her trial notes she owned some objects that I own today and had practices in her life similar to mine.

“I didn’t know about Issobell’s story when I wrote the song so it seemed eerie to have written the line: ‘I’ll keep coming back, I’ll keep coming back.’”

Issobell Young, born in about 1565, was the wife of a tenant farmer.

With both her husband and neighbours testifying against her, she was found guilty of witchcraft and executed at Castle Hill, Edinburgh, in 1629.

It is thought that between 3,000 and 5,000 people (mainly women) lost their lives following accusations of witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Jo Beth said: “Sometimes past spirits seem to beckon their descendants to reveal their stories.”

The Spell, by Nightsong, is available online. The group’s debut album, The Peasant’s Revolt, is available from December.