This serene wooded hilltop has a dark history as the climactic point of the Swedish witch trials.
In the middle of the 17th century, witchcraft hysteria spread across Sweden, resulting in numerous witch trials and the death of some 400 people. This dark period in Swedish history was given the name “Det Stora Oväsendet,” or “the Great Noise.”
The climax of the witch hunt occurred in Torsåker parish, in the northern province of Ångermanland. There, on one spring day of 1675, 71 people (65 of whom were women) were tried and executed. In total, about one-fifth of all the women in the parish were falsely accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake.
The victims were beheaded and their bodies burned on a hilltop near Torsåker parish. Today the mountain is still known as Bålberget (“Pyre Mountain”) or Häxberget (“Witch Mountain”). A memorial stone was erected at the execution site in 1975 on the 300-year anniversary of the trial. The inscription on the stone reads,”In 1675 witches’ pyres burnt here. Women died, men judged. The belief of the time befalls man.”
Know Before You Go
A signposted trail called "Witches' Path" will take you the 4.6 miles (7.5 km) from Torsåker Church to the site. From the surrounding villages, you can also drive up to the vicinity of the site, where there is a parking space. The nearby town of Prästmon houses a museum dedicated to the witch trials. More visitor information for the memorial site and museum on their website.
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