Nineteen people were hanged in the course of the 1692 Salem witch trials. The site where they met their end now overlooks a Walgreens, according to researchers. And so the world turns!
According to the Boston Globe, the hunt began in 2010, using eyewitness accounts combined with modern technology:
They focused their inquiry initially on Gallows Hill, where many believed the accused witches met their death at the peak. But the researchers concluded that the hangings happened closer to the base of the hill, on the spot known as Proctor’s Ledge.
They reached this conclusion by using eyewitness accounts from the time of the hangings, aerial photography of Gallows Hill, and images of the area generated with advanced mapping technology, the researchers said.
At the time the spot, close to one of the roads, was publicly available for grazing sheep. Salem State University professor Emerson Baker said that it made sense to go with somewhere widely visible, as the executions were “to serve as an example of what happens to people who break the law.” And as you can see from this Washington Post video, the scene would’ve been hard to ignore.
Though the site apparently wasn’t all that lost, even if it took some legwork to prove it was Proctor’s Ledge. One 72-year-old resident said that, “The old timers... used to talk about the witchcraft and [that] this was the probable site,” and he even once gave “a driver chauffeuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono” directions to the spot. And the New York Post talked to a Wiccan who noted that when she visited Salem, all the locals seem to know where to send her. There simply wasn’t any marker—“just a Walgreens on the corner.”
Salem now plans to install a small memorial on the spot. Please enjoy this local news report on the find, and contemplate the passage of time.
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Photo via Getty Images.