Rock band’s riffs in support of ‘witch’

Seventh Son
Seventh Son
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IT’S Halloween and here’s a group of lads you wouldn’t fancy coming down your drive trick or treating...

But don’t be afeared. This South Yorkshire heavy metal band are more hairy than scary. And this supernatural season they’re throwing their riffs behind a rather intriguing campaign.

Seventh Son have become official musicians of a bid to have Britain’s last jailed witch posthumously pardoned.

The quartet - who have seen their own fair share of fright sights during 33 years playing the region’s pubs and clubs - have provided an official song for the cause.

“Witchcraft and rock n roll go hand in hand,” says lead singer Bri Shaughnessy, devil of metal by night, Cannon Hall heritage assistant by day.

The witch in question was Scottish medium Helen Duncan - convicted in 1944. Officials said she was a trickster, and treated her to nine months porridge. She was found guilty of falsely claiming to procure spirits - a crime under the (now repealed) 1795 Witchcraft Act.

Now supporters want her name cleared. They say she should never have been hauled before the courts to face mediaeval charges. Many claim her seances were the real deal.

“The way she was treated was a disgrace,” says guitarist (and engineer) Dave Fox. “We have always been about standing up for outsiders. That’s what this is.”

Their song - The White Witch - now soundtracks the campaign website. T here are plans to release it as a fund-raising single.

Whether Duncan deserves the pardon, of course, depends on your view. Supporters say she was wrongly convicted by officials who didn’t understand her spiritualism. Cynics suggest she fed on the misery of grieving relatives by claiming to commune with the dead.

Her downfall came when she ‘foresaw’ the sinking of World War Two ship HMS Barham. In actual fact, the sinking had happened already - but had been the subject of a news blackout. Worried officials arrested her.

“Whatever she was,” says Bri who founded the band whose members live in Athersley, Chapeltown, Stannington and Darnall, “she should never have been convicted under the Witchcraft Act. Her family have had to live with that stigma.”

After this the band are set to release their fourth album. Lyrical themes include The Great Train Robbery. It seems unlikely they’ll get their crimes pardoned.