hidden europe 44

The witches of Varanger

by hidden europe

Picture above: This installation on the shores of the Barents Sea recalls witch burnings in Vardø (photo © hidden europe).


The 17th-century witchcraft trials in Finnmark are recalled in a striking new memorial on the shores of the Barents Sea. hidden europe visited the memorial which is pictured on the front cover of this issue of hidden europe.

Norway’s easternmost town of Vardø has a dark secret. The town is on a small island off the coast of the Varanger Peninsula. At more than 31 degrees east of the Greenwich Meridian, Vardø lies further east than the Bosphorus and the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

In the 16th century, Vardø hosted an extraordinary series of trials in which men and women were accused of witchcraft. Over 100 people were brought before court, leading to 77 women and 14 men being burnt at the stake. The majority of those charged with witchcraft were Norwegians; a small minority were from the local Sami population. The denunciation of those suspected of engaging in witchcraft by the wider population spread fear across the Varanger Peninsula and beyond.

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