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 -- A team of researchers using historical documents and 21st-century archaeological techniques has confirmed the exact site where 19 innocent people were hanged during the Salem witch trials more than three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Historian Sidney Perley had pinpointed Proctor's Ledge nearly a century ago as the site of the hangings by using historical documents, but his findings were lost to time, and myth, misconceptions and conspiracy theories had taken their place, Baker said.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

  • At Las Vegas hacker summit, a new focus on preventing brazen attacks

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LAS VEGAS -- Against a backdrop of cyberattacks that amount to full-fledged sabotage, Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos brought a sobering message to the hackers and security experts assembled at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. Source
  • 'This guy thinks he is a bald eagle': young hawk defies odds in Sidney, B.C.

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A young red-tailed hawk that has been raised by a pair of bald eagles in a Sidney, B.C., nest continues to defy the odds. The young hawk ended up in the bald eagle's nest in Roberts Bay in early June — likely intended as the next meal for their eaglets. Source
  • Can we create life from scratch? Scientists start with yeast

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Post doctoral fellow Leslie Mitchell works at her bench at a New York University lab in the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences in New York, where researchers are attempting to create custom-built DNA from scratch. Source
  • Great white shark detected in N.S. Minas Basin to feast on abundance of seals

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CHEVERIE, N.S. -- A 300-kilogram great white shark affectionately known as 'Pumpkin' has been cruising Nova Scotia's Minas Basin to feast on an abundance of seals. Scientists say the female shark was detected off Cheverie by an acoustic monitoring system that picked up a transmitter placed on it last year. Source
  • Adobe is planning to 'end-of-life Flash' by 2020

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Adobe on Tuesday said its Flash software that served up video and online games for decades will be killed off over the next three years. The software giant said in a blog post its software, once considered a standard, was being supplanted by open standards such as HTML5 which have matured and become viable alternatives for content. Source
  • Is the future of farming inside a shipping container?

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Local Roots Farms, a California based company, has created a sustainable farm inside a 12-metre shipping container. The company’s CEO, Eric Ellestad, told CTV’s Your Morning that he hopes such indoor farms will “improve global health by building better food systems. Source
  • Britain to ban sale of new diesel and gasoline cars by 2040

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LONDON -- Britain's government says it will ban the sale of new cars and vans using diesel and gasoline starting in 2040 as authorities move to tackle air pollution. The decision announced Wednesday by Environment Secretary Michael Gove follows similar moves in France and Norway. Source
  • Scientists build DNA from scratch to alter life's blueprint

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- At Jef Boeke's lab, you can whiff an odour that seems out of place, as if they were baking bread here. But he and his colleagues are cooking up something else altogether: yeast that works with chunks of man-made DNA. Source
  • U.S. authorities warn virtual kidnapping scams are on the rise

    Tech & Science CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- The caller who rang Valerie Sobel's cellphone had a horrifying message: "We have Simone's finger. Do you want to see the rest of her in a body bag?" Then came the sound of her daughter, screaming in terror. Source
  • Google Street View goes where no Google Street View has gone before

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Google has taken its cameras where few cameras have gone before, capturing images aboard the International Space Station. It's a first for Street View Imagery. With the help of French astronaut and aerospace engineer Thomas Pesquet, who returned to earth last month after a six-month mission, Google has charted life beyond the blue planet, collecting images of life aboard the space station. Source