Witch told she's cursed for removing pebble from Scottish burial site (2024)

Trouble is brewing on both sides of the Atlantic after an American 'witch' removed a small stone and part of a fallen tree branch from an ancient Pictish burial site near Inverness featured in the TV series Outlander.

An online TikTok community called Witchtok has seen angry videos from followers in Scotland attacking Florida-based self-styled witch Brenda Spears, who styles herself 'Brewitched' on the platform, accusing her of 'theft' and 'looting'.

Ms Spears, who describes herself as a 'practitioner of traditional witchcraft', admitted taking a small stone from the path which she said her tour guide handed her at the 4,000-year-old site of standing stones.

She also removed a pine cone and part of a tree branch, which she claimed she was allowed to do by a workman cutting the trees at the site and took it back home, along with the pebble.

Brenda Spears, (pictured) who refers to herself as a 'practitioner of traditional witchcraft', claims a workman allowed her to take the pebble and small branch from Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns in Inverness has been popular with tourists after the television show Outlander was shot there (Pictured is Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser in the fictional Craige na Dun)

But other TikTokers with handles such as Thistlewitches and Punk Rock Witch, say that any stone at the site is sacred and should not be removed.

The Scottish government agrees, and a spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland told MailOnline: 'Whist we appreciate that individuals can be enthusiastic about visiting a particular historic site, Clava Cairns is a protected site, and as such nothing should be removed from it.'

Archaeology Professor Howard Williams from the University of Chester said in a TikTok post: 'The issues about this are manifold. Not only the taking of those items away, taking them abroad, then bragging about it on social media and therefore potentially promoting that kind of activity.

'This is already a problem across ancient monuments in Scotland and the rest of Britain from tourists of all kinds taking things and vandalising sites, but it's particularly pernicious it seems in the spiritual community.'

Professor Williams pointed out that the tour guide and tree cutter 'were not sanctioned to give you permission' and urged Ms Spears to 'have a long hard look at yourself.'

He added: 'It's not about the fact that we're taking much ourselves, but if everyone did that there would be thousands upon thousands of objects removed, disturbed or relocated.

'The stone itself may have been from the path, but it's put there to help manage the ancient monument….and it's still not ok.

'At Clava Cairns it's a long-term problem of spiritual communities going there and messing with the landscape and thinking they're entitled to do so because they're special.

The 4,000 year-old Pictish site is sacred with the Scottish Government stating no items should be removed from the location

Other TikTok critics also pointed out that Ms Spears should not have removed the items due to the cross-contamination and other biomatter they could bring to the US

Ms Spears showed her followers the pine cone and piece of fallen branch, which appeared to have lichen covering it. Critics point out should not be taken out of the UK as lichen and other biomatter could cause cross-contamination in the US.

It is a Federal offence to import most types of plant and fungal material to the US without a licence.

One fan of Clava Cairns and its mysteries told MailOnline that as well as the legal protection, there is 'a lore of curses attached to people removing stones from Clava Cairns.'

In the highly successful TV series Outlander, aired on Starz channel in the US, star Caitriona Balfe plays a nurse who is transported from 1945 to the Jacobite risings in 1743 after she touches the ancient monument.

Critics of Ms Spears have united under the hashtag #returnthestone, and even offered to send her a stone from elsewhere in Scotland if she agrees to send back the Clava Cairns pebble.

In her TikTok video, Ms Spears appears unmoved by the appeals, telling her 29k followers: 'It was never my intention to offend, steal or desecrate and that I did not.'

She adds: 'I will not tolerate hate, bullying or threats.'

She signs off to her followers: 'Keep witchin'!'

One Clava Cairns fan revealed removing stones and other items from the site could result in curses (pictured: Brenda Spears)

Despite the uproar, Brenda has remained unfazed quipping that she would not tolerate 'bullying or threats'

Witch told she's cursed for removing pebble from Scottish burial site (2024)
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