Helen Castor is joined in the studio by the historian of witchcraft, Professor Owen Davies.
Historian Tom Charlton travels to Manningtree in North Essex - the scene, in the 17th century, of a series of witch-trials instigated by the so-called Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. Hopkins has gained notoriety for these and other brutal acts against women but he is the one who is always remembered - not the victims. Now a local woman, Grace Carter, wants a #MeToo moment so that the women are not forgotten. Professor Alison Rowlands, who studies witchcraft across Europe, joins Tom to help Grace sort out fact from fiction as she plans a monument to this painful past.
The poison attack on the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury caused consternation around the world. Skripal and his daughter were in hospital for weeks and were lucky not to have been killed by the nerve agent used against them. Poisoning seems a very underhand act today but, back in the Middle Ages when knowledge of the natural world was more instinctive, it was commonplace. Indeed, as Iszi Lawrence found out, natural poisons were at the root of medieval medicine.
Our modern world, with its fast roads and industrial farmland, is no place for hedgehogs and their numbers are in serious decline. Perhaps it's the threat to their numbers or the affectionate portrayal of Mrs Tiggy Winkle by Beatrix Potter, but we seem to be very fond of this prickly mammal. Four hundred years ago, things were very different. Hedgehog numbers were healthy but people thought they were witches and hunted them. To find out why, Tom Holland has been spending the night spotting hedgehogs in an Oxfordshire garden with natural history writer Hugh Warwick.
Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.