Martyr's Stake **

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The Martyrs' Stake, Wigtown cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Neil Theasby -


“This monument marks the traditional site of the execution by drowning of two local women on 11th May 1685.

Margaret McLaughlin, aged 63, and Margaret Wilson, aged 18, were put to death for their sympathies with the Covenanter movement, which for fifty years defied the claim of the king to be the head of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland". (Text from an information panel)

The Covenanters honoured only Christ as head of their church and they refused to submit to the introduction of bishops or the use of the liturgy in their services. Government troops pursued the rebels as they met illegally on the moors and in the hills for worship. Some were shot as they fled; others were taken prisoner, tried, and sentenced to execution or banishment into slavery. After their trial in Wigtown's tollbooth the two Margarets were tied to stakes and drowned in the tidal Bladnoch River. Their gravestones, along with one of three Covenanter men hanged at the same time, lie in the local churchyard. A monument was later erected on Windyhill to honour the Wigtown martyrs.