Researchers pinpoint site of Salem witch hangings

SALEM, Mass. -- A team of researchers using historical documents and 21st-century archaeological techniques has confirmed the exact site where 19 innocent people were hanged during the Salem witch trials more than three centuries ago.

See Full Article

The site, known as Proctor's Ledge, is a small city-owned plot of woods nestled between two residential streets and behind a Walgreens pharmacy, said Salem State University history professor Emerson "Tad" Baker, a member of the seven-person team, which announced its findings this week.

Historian Sidney Perley had pinpointed Proctor's Ledge nearly a century ago as the site of the hangings by using historical documents, but his findings were lost to time, and myth, misconceptions and conspiracy theories had taken their place, Baker said.

The current research, known as the Gallows Hill Project, was about correcting the misinformation many people have about one of the most tragic episodes in American history.

"We are not discovering anything, and we don't want to take credit for that," he said. "This is all about the healing, not about the discovery."

Twenty people suspected of witchcraft were killed in Salem in 1692 during a frenzy stoked by superstition, fear of disease and strangers, and petty jealousies. Nineteen were hanged, and one man was crushed to death by rocks.

"The witch trials cast a long dark shadow on Salem history," Baker said.

The top of nearby Gallows Hill had long been thought of as the site of the hangings, but there was no evidence to support that, Baker said. Proctor's Ledge is at the base of Gallows Hill.

To determine the spot, the team looked at eyewitness accounts of the hangings, then used modern-day aerial photography and ground penetrating radar not available a century ago.

The team made other interesting discoveries. They determined there probably never was a gallows at the site. More than likely, the executioners tossed a rope over a large tree.

Baker also stressed that there is no evidence that any of the victims were buried at Proctor's Ledge -- it's too rocky and the soil is too shallow.

"I think knowing the exact location where the executions took place is important because we want to get history right," Mayor Kim Driscoll said. "It's also an opportunity to come together and recognize the injustice and tragedy."

The city plans to place a marker at the site but also wants to respect the rights of the people who live in the area, the mayor said. The city doesn't want visitors tramping through private backyards looking for the spot, she said.

Instead, she encourages visitors to go to the memorial and museum downtown.

Baker said a memorial at the site is important.

"We need to have that exact spot marked so it can never be lost again," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Apple founder street name shakes Paris suburb to the core

    Tech & Science CTV News
    He changed technology and how the world communicates. Now, five years after he died, Apple founder Steve Jobs may be remembered in another way -- on a Paris street. "Rue Steve Jobs" is among names shortlisted for one of the new roads in the French capital's southeastern 13th arrondissement that will lead to a new incubator for hi-tech start-ups. Source
  • A sound investment for Lamborghini fans

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The Ixoost EsaVox Speaker system is inspired by a Lamborghini's quad exhaust and ventilation set up and comes with the automotive marque's seal of approval. Like the most exclusive and most extreme cars in production, the Ixoost EsaVox is hand crafted in Italy. Source
  • A planet's worth of human-made things has been weighed

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A new report has calculated the total mass of all the technology humans have produced, everything from buildings to cars and computers, and found it is an astounding 30 trillion tons. That is more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. Source
  • Is chocolate really good for you? UBC scientists make new tool to measure antioxidants

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Every chocolate lover wants the headlines about antioxidants in chocolate to be true. And, for better or for worse, determining just how much of the disease-fighting molecules are contained in this popular treat may be getting a little easier. Source
  • Canadian researchers are leading the way to Mars

    Tech & Science CBC News
    When humans one day set foot on Mars, Canadians will have contributed a lot of science to having made that happen. As Canadians, we're not known for bragging, but there are many Canadian scientists and engineers who have contributed greatly to our understanding of Mars and who are paving the way for humans to one day settle on its dusty surface. Source
  • Canadian scientists help prepare a path to Mars

    Tech & Science CBC News
    If humans one day set foot on Mars, Canadians will have contributed to the science that helped make it possible. As Canadians, we're not known for bragging, but there are many Canadian scientists and engineers who have contributed greatly to our understanding of Mars and who are preparing the path for humans to one day settle on its dusty surface. Source
  • 4 major world cities pledge to eliminate diesel vehicles

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Host Mexico City has joined with Paris, Madrid and Athens in committing to eliminate diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025. The C40 Mayors Summit announced the agreement Thursday. A statement said the commitment would reduce air pollution and related health issues in those cities, while also helping cities meet climate goals. Source
  • Nations OK European Space Agency's mission to Mars in 2020

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BERLIN - Nations have approved an additional 440 million euros ($469 million) to fund the European Space Agency's next mission to Mars. As part of the ExoMars mission, the agency this year sent an orbiter and a test lander to the red planet. Source
  • 'Bit of a shocker': How a seaweed diet dramatically cuts cows' methane output

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SEACOW POND, P.E.I. -- A P.E.I. dairy farmer's attempt to save money on feed -- he fed his cows seaweed from a nearby beach -- has led to a discovery that could bring a substantial reduction in greenhouse gases worldwide. Source
  • Oldest zoo gorilla set to have biopsy before 60th birthday

    Tech & Science CTV News
    POWELL, Ohio -- The oldest known gorilla living in a zoo, a female named Colo, is slated to undergo a surgical biopsy sometime soon ahead of her 60th birthday on Dec. 22. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio says veterinarians have been monitoring a mass under Colo's arm that recently started causing her discomfort, so they want to take tissue samples to determine the cause and possible treatment. Source