Historic spots

The past in the present.

The Witch Stone

Bergen, is as most cities, a city full of history – around every corner you will find a spot that has something to tell. In one of the parks you will find a quite large rock standing tall, telling a story of what happened at this spot in the early modern times. The inscription reads:


350 bålofre for justismord 1550-1700

The Witch stone

350 (fire)victims of miscarriage of justice 1550-1700

It is a monument in memory of all the women of the city who were burned at the stake for being a witch between 1550-1700. More or less 350 women were burned as witches in this period, all innocent of the accusations made by neighbors, family member or town people. The rock was unveiled 26th of June 2002, and serves as a reminder of the miscarriage of justice made in early modern times. Being accused of witchcraft would often lead to an investigation, accusations would pile up and a death sentence would be hard to avoid.


The rock is placed at a unique spot, this is where one of Norways most famous witches was burned, Anne Pederdotter in 1590. The burning of Anne also marks the beginning of the witch hunt in Norway, the period after is a period where several women and men faced accusations of witchcraft and a death sentence.

Between 700-800 people were accused of witchcraft in Norway, but around 300 men and women were executed for it. There are however reasons to believe that there might have been more people accused and convicted of it, but the lack of sources cannot prove this. In many cases the accusations went away due to help of friends of the family, who held high positions in the society and could apply pressure on the courts to find the accused not guilty or free the accused of all charges.  Other times there were just not enough proof to convict the accused, and sometimes the courts decided there was no need for severe retribution, some of the accused where sentenced to go to church regularly and do pilgrimages to holy places outside of Norway.

In Bergen, Anne Pederdotter is the most famous witch to have been burned at the stake. Many more became victims of the accusations, but Anne is the one who has inspired many tales of the prosecution. Her story is being told through books, plays and documentaries – a part of the reason is that her case has been very well documented. We even have her defending arguments during her court case, being accused of murdering a child through witchcraft she is said to have answered: There are many children who die in this city, and I am not responsible for all of their deaths.



Sources in Norwegian, about accurate numbers and statements:



Alver, Bente: Mellem mennesker og magter: magi i hekseforfølgelsernes tid, Oslo 2008

Gilje, Nils (2010). Heksen og humanisten: Anne Pedersdatter og Absalon Pederssøn Beyer: en historie om magi og trolldom i Bergen på 1500-tallet, Bergen.

Some parts in this blogpost are also taken from what I can remember from my classes on witchcraft at the University of Bergen.


The past in the present

I must have been around five or six years old when I first saw a picture of Machu Picchu. I clearly remember looking at a black and white photograph in a book of this place – which at the time I did not know actually existed. That is when it all started, my passion and love for history and everything else that comes with it. My fascination for the early civilizations became my first love within the history field, later it was the Tudors, and now it also includes the medieval era, the Hanseatic League (a German trading company) and architecture.

There is so much history everywhere I look, and the more I know of it, the more I see it. When I first started to realize that history was around us at all times, as a silent bystander or a companion I never saw the world the same way again. To this day, everywhere I go, I am constantly reminded of the past that is still here. A professor of mine in a class about cultural heritage said it:

The past is in the present. Every minute of every day, you see it. Even if you want to or not, you cannot ignore it once you acknowledge its presence. It is there, talking to you, inviting you to see what it once was and what it has become. 

Alright, maybe not in those exact words, but that is pretty much what he said, and it stuck with me. No matter where I go, no matter what I see, I know its history. It is there, right in front of everyone who are walking quickly by to get to work on time. Like our silent companions, it is always there watching how times goes by.

My dream would be to work with history, teaching in a museum (or as a teacher), maybe within a cultural heritage setting as well. Protecting places, making sure they are here for the generations to come, so they can learn and understand their own history and past  – and what meaning it has for a nations identity, for their own identities and maybe even appreciate it. I am not there yet, but my passion and love for this is still so strong. So I figured, well why not just do it on my own, this is my way of enjoying and appreciating the history I see around me every day. I hope you will enjoy it too.

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