Fire rituals have played a vital role among many cultures in the past. The Vikings sent burning ships into the sea, the Indians burned widows and the Roman Catholics witches.
Few of the Rituals have survived in Scotland, the Up Helly Aa on Shetland and the Burning of the Clavie at Burghead rank among the best known.
Burghead is the site of the ancient Pictish Fort just a few miles out of Elgin.
They celebrate the old New Year (11th January) by burning a barrel of tar and wood on top of Doorie Hill after having taking it around town.
They say the last witch of Moray was burned here, too. Some time in the 17th century, when food was poor and plagues and poverty took their toll.
From a nonreligious point of view they burned witches to purify the community, a cleansing, a way of de-contamination. Although the arguments were far more religious in those days, of course.
It will possibly not have made much difference for the women who died a painful death in the flames.
The ashes will have flown a few meters further where the old graveyard lies oddly peaceful amongst the houses of the community. The resting places of those, who were not outcast and condemned. Not burned. But dead nevertheless.
Remains of an early Christian Chapel in the 7th century were found here. The Pictish Fort dates back as far as the Iron Age.
The Clavie remains one of the mystic places of Scotland. To this day.