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Martyrs' Monument

A tall ashlar obelisk on the summit of Windy Hill, a quarter-mile (0.5 km) west of Wigtown in Dumfries and Galloway. Erected in 1858 in memory of the Wigtown Martyrs, the monument comprises a square pedestal with a tapering octagonal shaft above topped with a decorative stone urn finial and surrounded by railings. There is a plaque on the pedestal. The structure was B-listed in 1972. The Martyrs believed in the National Covenant; three were hanged in the town, while another two were put to death at the Martyr's Stake, a half-mile (0.8 km) to the east in Wigtown Bay.

The Covenanters opposed King Charles II attempts to reform the church in Scotland, particularly placing himself as its head, and the southwest of the country became the centre of Covenanting activities, with armed revolt and a number of rebel ministers holding open-air services which attracted large congregations. Many ordinary people were willing to risk their lives as supporters of the Covenant and Government troops would hunt down those who attended services. Known as the 'Wigtown Martyrs', five locals were executed on the 11th May 1685, having been tried at Wigtown by a Royal Commission, comprising Sir Robert Grierson of Lagg, Sheriff David Graham (the brother of John Graham of Claverhouse), Major Windram, Captain Strachan and Provost Coltrane of Wigtown. The Commissioners tortured their victims, including holding burning matches against the fingers of the young women. William Johnston, John Milroy and George Walker were hanged for their beliefs, while Margaret Wilson and Margaret McLachlan were drowned. All were buried in the kirkyard of Wigtown Parish Church, where strongly-worded inscriptions on their gravestones make clear the local outrage at their execution and the anger directed towards those responsible.


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