The Wicked Findings of the Witchfinder General: Using linked open data to put accused witches on the map

Over the course of the summer, during a three-month placement (June to September 2019), The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft database is being creatively visualised with the use of Wikidata. This database contains a wealth of information about all of the recorded accused Scottish witches dating from 1563-1736.

The Equate ‘Data and Visualisation’ Intern (or ‘Witchfinder General’), Emma Carroll, and ‘Wikimedian-in-Residence’, Ewan McAndrew, have reused this open licensed content in order to transform this static database into an interactive map.

This presentation will provide an example of real-world application of teaching and learning, and will detail how Emma was employed to work with Wikipedia’s sister project, Wikidata. The internship's aims have built on the successful project work of student volunteers from the Data Science for Design MSc, who added information to the Linked Data Cloud as 5-star linked open data.

Following this, the internship's tasks involved:

- Re-using pre-existing data and generating new data which allows geographical mapping

- Developing other visualisations of the data which allow previously unknown patterns in the data to be extracted, in turn allowing new stories and hypotheses about the data to be developed

- Documenting processes and write regular blog posts to update the community on their progress.

This presentation will outline the methodology employed, the challenges experienced and the end of project conclusions & visualisations - all with a view of aiding students’ and the public’s understanding of data literacy and to help shed new light on this period of Scottish history.

Digital Scholarship Centre

Digital Scholarship Centre, 6th floor
Main Library 
University of Edinburgh 
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ

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