The History of Leith

November 15, 2011

Turning the riddle

17 April 1653.—The said day Janet Henryson caldtoune gave in a bill of complaint against Andro Drysdaill yr qrin shee complaint that he had called hir witch and yt he had caused turne the riddill upon hir to try if she had laid seekness upon his wyfe which being sufficientlie provin by witnesses The session thought it most expedient yat ye matter sould be referd to ye presbyterie and yrfor ordained ye clerck to draw gp a formal progresse of ye process and give it into ye presbeterie the next presbyterie day.
(Note.—The charm of “turning the riddle” was practised by balancing a sieve upon a part of scissors, repeating some lines and speaking the names of the suspected persons. At the mention of the guilty
name the riddle was supposed to turn and the culprit to be thus discovered. It was commonly applied to thieves.)

source-South leith Records

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