Thursday, 4 August 2016


This short legend was collected by Olaus Nicolaissen (published in 1879) and hearkens from Vinje on Tindsøyen, in Vesterålen.


On Tindsøyen in Øksnes, north-west of the Vinje farm, there is a small mountain plateau, Trollkonskaret. It is here that in the old days, a witch is supposed to have been burned. She had for a long time been infamous for her enchantments, but no one could really prove that she had been practising witchcraft.

Once in a while, no one had the time to go out fishing; but there was never a want of fish on her table. One of the servant boys decided one day that he should say that he was sick. He then went home from the field he was reaping, lay down in the hayloft, and peered down through a crack in the floor. He then saw his mistress, carrying a large besom, come into the barn under the hayloft, and with the broom, she began to sweep until she started sweating from the work. When she had carried on for a while, a shoal of coley began to writhe and toss on the floor; and from these, she plucked out as many as she thought she would need; then she went home and prepared them for dinner. Thus she was convicted for wilful witchcraft, and burned.


The most prominent researcher of the Norwegian witch processes, Rune Blix Hagen writes that nearly 800 people in Norway were convicted for witchcraft; he can document that 307 were executed, beginning in the 1570s to 1695, though this number also includes those who were tortured to death before being convicted.

Sometimes folklore is anything but an innocent belief system; sometimes it is lethal.

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