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'Witch' artwork to go ahead

17 August 2012

BBC

Pendle road: the poet Simon Armitage presented a television documentary about the witch-trials, in January 

Pendle road: the poet Simon Armitage presented a television documentary about the witch-trials, in January 

A GIANT artwork that marks the 400th anniversary of the Pendle witch-trials is to go ahead, despite objections from the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd John Goddard.

The Bishop had expressed concern about celebrating the date of the "unjust" trials in August 1612. "Do we want the area to be known for the injustice and oppression of perhaps elderly women?" he said. "Some may see it as fun, but there is a fear in my mind we can become immune to dreadful things that happen in history if we allow them to be treated too lightheartedly."

His comments persuaded Pendle Council to halt its sponsorship of the event, but now the local brewery, Moorhouse's, has stepped in with funding for the artist Philippe Handford to paint the date 1612 in 500-foot-tall numerals on Pendle Hill.

In the trials, a dozen people - including two men - were charged with ten murders by witchcraft. Ten were hanged, one died in prison, and one was cleared.

Mr Handford said: "I think it will make people investigate what happened 400 years ago, and the local injustice that took place."

A spokesman for the brewery said: "The image should be spectacular. Philippe has put a great deal into ensuring that the image will have maximum impact but leave no lasting effect."

A statue of one of the Pendle witches, Alice Nutter, has been unveiled in her home village of Roughlee.

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