In February 1597, Isobel Strathanchyn, known as Skuddie, was accused of four counts of witchcraft.

The charges brought against her included creating a love potion, breaking the wheels of a mill in revenge after the miller refused to give her any meal, and taking bones of the dead from the kirkyard at Dyce, washing them in water which she then used to clean a sick man before casting the bones into the River Don, causing the water to rumble as if all the hills had fallen in.

She was convicted and subsequently executed by burning - using six loads of firewood.

The trial took place at a time when witchcraft paranoia was rampant in Aberdeenshire. Between 1596 and 97, some 40 cases were recorded locally with many of the accused, the majority women, put to death following incarceration and torture.

A new exhibition running as part of Aberdeen's Granite Noir International Crime Writing Festival will shed light on some of the women from the area who were convicted of crimes between the 16th and 20th centuries.

Drawing from original records found in archives from Aberdeen and its surrounds, Women, Crime and Society examines how women who commit crime, particularly involving murder or violence, can become the subject of a morbid fascination, challenging society’s notion women's role as nurturers.

From the Enactment Book to the Kirk Session records, the exhibition highlights the position of poverty-stricken women.

From prostitution to infanticide, petty theft to sex before marriage, records show women, many in desperate circumstances, turning to crime.

While a number of featured cases relate to infanticide, there occasionally appear to be mitigating circumstances, as in the case of Catherine Anderson, an outworker from Pitfodels accused of concealing her pregnancy - a crime in itself - and smothering her newborn child.

Her counsel, Mr J C Wilson pleaded for clemency, stating that the girl was in a state of starvation, deserted by the father of the child and “Indeed in the most wretched circumstances – without food, without clothing, and without the means of procuring them, and altogether alone and in her misery, her child was born, and this child unfortunately met its death.”

The Kirk Sessions, the lowest court of the Kirk of Scotland, dealt with societal control and frequently tried women accused of concealment of pregnancy or extra-marital fornication. One such case was that of Margaret Dunbar - while the court acknowledged that she had been raped twice and named her attacker on record, she was brought before them accused of having a child out of wedlock.

Another case highlighted deals with Anna Durward and Margaret Campbell who, in 1742, had been held in the Tolbooth for ‘several years’ accused of murdering their own children. They voluntarily elected to depart from Scotland and transport themselves to ‘some of His Majesty’s Plantations in America’, never to return home. If they did not leave, they were to be imprisoned again for a period of three months, and publicly ‘scourged’ every market day by the hands of the common hangman.

Discovered in a Police Station in Dufftown, a series of wanted posters will be on display. These would have been distributed to police stations across the country in the early 20th century and include images of Ellen Jane Pugh and Lily Hart, who both went under the alias of Wiliams, members of a gang in Birmingham in 1911 suspected of manufacturing and passing of ‘spurious coin’.

The two women had previously been convicted of a range of offences including brothel keeping, obscene language, fighting and assault of police.

Aberdeen City Council culture spokesperson Councillor Marie Boulton said: “We’re delighted to see our UNESCO recognised archives being used to tell the tragic stories of women who were on the fringes of society, perhaps because of poverty or persecution, and in some cases because they sought a life of crime. These fascinating women have much to teach us about our cities past and perhaps even our present."

Katy Kavanagh, senior archivist, said “The exhibition explores the wealth of material in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives collections. This year we are focusing on women’s experiences of crime and punishment, and what this can tell us about women’s status in society at the time. Some of the cases are truly harrowing, and it really makes you appreciate the progress that has been made towards equality.”