Scottish Witches Mapping Project Wins Best Data Visualisation at 2019 DH Awards

Blaeu maps at the National Library of Scotland
Ewan McAndrew, CC-BY-SA

The University of Edinburgh's mapping project titled Witches – Mapping the Scottish Survey of Witchcraft Database has been named the winner for the category of Best Data Visualisation in the 2019 Digital Humanities Awards.

The Witches project secured the most public votes in the Best Data Visualisation category, despite stiff competition from many other fantastic DH projects from around the world. 

The Digital Humanities Awards take place annually, where members of the public can nominate resources for the recognition of talent and expertise in the digital humanities community. Resources are considered in a public vote with prompts of “Is it DH?”, “Is it in the right category?”, and “Was it launched/published/majorly updated in that year?”. The DH Awards are intended as an awareness-raising activity, to help put interesting DH resources in the spotlight and to engage both DH users and general public) in the work of the community.

Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh, commented on the winning project:

The map is a really effective way to connect where we are now to these stories of the past.  It builds from a much-loved, brilliant resource, the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft database, and helps surfaces it as linked open data in Wikipedia's sister project, Wikidata, so that others around the world can learn all about Scotland's witch trials and explore and engage with the stories behind the data. The tragedy is that Scotland had five times the number of executions. The idea of being able to plot all the accused witches on a map really brings it home. These places are near everyone. 

There does seem to be a growing movement that we need to be remembering these women, remembering what happened and understanding what happened. Our intern Emma Carroll worked for three months collating the historical information and plotting the locations on the map of Scotland. It took quite a lot of detective work to create this map as a lot of these places don't exist anymore.