Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, commemorating the Victims of the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials
Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway and historian Liv Helene Willumsen during the first officially guided tour at Steilneset Memorial
From the opening of Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, 23 June 2011. From left: Jerry Gorovoy, Louise Bourgeois' Studio, Her Majesty Queen Sonja, historian Liv Helene Willumsen, architect Peter Zumthor.
Article in Oxford Bibliographies: 'Historical Approaches to Child Witches'
Facts about the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials
The district of Finnmark in Northern Norway experienced severe witchcraft persecution during the 17th century. For a short introduction to the Finnmark witchcraft trials, click here:
At the Nordic History Meeting August 2011 in Tromsø, the following presentation
about witchcraft historiography in Norway from 1994 to 2011 was given by me. Click here for text (PDF).
Steilneset Memorial. Art Architecture History
This book contains a collection of articles related to Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, Norway.
The articles provide interesting perspectives on this unique memorial, which commemorates the 91 victims of the Finnmark witchcraft trials in the 17th century. Authors from Norway and other countries give their contributions to the book. Stamsund 2015. Co-edited with Reidun Laura Andreassen.
Witches of the North. Scotland and Finnmark
Witches of the North. Scotland and Finnmark is a comparative study of witchcraft persecution
in Scotland and Finnmark, Norway. A wide range of quantitative and qualitative analyses
based mainly on legal documents shed light on the witch-hunts in the two regions during the
seventeenth century. Statistical analyses give information about tendencies in the source
material in total. The qualitative chapters contain close-readings of trial documents, wherein
the various voices heard during a trial are analysed: the voice of the scribe, the voice of
the law, the voice of the accused person and the voices of the witnesses. The analyses
combined provide a broad view of the historical phenomenon in question as well as in-depth
studies of individual witchcraft cases.
The Witchcraft Trials in Finnmark, Northern Norway
This book contains the original sources of the Finnmark witchcraft trials during the period 1620 to 1692. The court records of the 17th century witchcraft trials were entered into protocols by a magistrate.
In this book the original facsimiles are rendered together with transcription of the sources.
The Witchcraft Trials in Finnmark, Northern Norway. Bergen 2010. The book is published by Varanger Museum and Skald Publisher.
Steilneset. Memorial to the Victims of the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials
This book contains all the 91 exhibition texts in the Memorial Hall at Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, Finnmark. Each of the victims of the
Finnmark witchcraft trials has got one text, with factual information about the
trial as well as information about the confession given before the court.
The texts in the Memorial Hall are written in Norwegian. The Norwegian texts are translated into English,German, and Finnish.
The book is available in these four languages.
To see one of the texts from a trial in 1621, click here: (PDF), or for another one, click here:(PDF)
Seventeenth-Century Witchcraft Trials in Scotland and Northern Norway
Abstract of Ph.D. thesis: Seventeenth-Century Witchcraft Trials in Scotland and Northern Norway by Liv Helene Willumsen is a comparative study of witchcraft persecution in Scotland and Finnmark, the northernmost region of Norway.
The hypothesis to be tested is that the historical witch-hunts in the two regions are complex phenomena, wherein several influential
explanatory factors are at work: the demonological element, the role of the state, the local courts, the role of the church, neighbourhood disputes,
the spoken word, folk belief, the superstitious north, the personal factor and lastly a direct connection between Scotland and Finnmark through a
Scottish district governor installed in Finnmark. A wide range of quantitative and qualitative analyses shed light on the witch-hunts in the two regions
during the period 1600-1700. The analyses are based on primary sources from witchcraft persecution, mainly legal documents. The quantitative chapters contain
statistical analyses and give information about tendencies in the source material in total. The qualitative chapters contain close-readings of trial documents
from a narratological perspective. Through discourse analyses the various voices heard during a trial are analysed: the voice of the scribe, the voice of the law,
the voice of the accused person and the voices of the witnesses. The quantitative and qualitative analyses combined provide a broad view of the historical phenomenon
in question as well as in-depth studies of individual witchcraft cases. The main finding of the quantitative analyses is that there is a strong correlation between
use of torture, demonic pact confessions, panics, local courts and females. The same finding is strengthened by the qualitative analyses, which in addition point
to the introduction of demonological notions by the learned elite, the spread of these notions in oral societies, the important roles of government officials
and the direct Scottish connection through a governmental official as explanatory factors. The conclusion is that the impact of the demonological doctrine on
legal and clerical institutions, the use of torture in local courts to extract demonological confessions and the pressure from local communities to start a
witchcraft trial must be seen as influential factors during the witchcraft trials in Scotland and Finnmark.
Seventeenth-Century Witchcraft Trials in Scotland and Northern Norway, Ph.D. thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2008, 325 pages
Trollkvinne i nord [Witch in the North]
This book was published in 1994. It is based on my Master's thesis from 1984, University of Tromsoe.
The study is the very first to point to the strong influence of demonology in the Finnmark witchcraft trials.
It is also the first study to point to the connection between the Finnmark witchcraft trials and the Scottish witchcraft trials.
The similarities particularly come to the fore with regard to the contents of the accused persons confessions before the court.
The occurrence of panics, linked witchcraft trials, is a similar feature in the two areas, so is the use of torture
in local courts and a strong majority of women among the accused. Also a high execution rate related to the witchcraft trials is found
in both areas. In the district of Finnmark, two ethnic groups lived side by side, The Norwegians and the Sami. Among the women accused
and executed for practising witchcraft, Norwegian women were targeted; among the men accused and executed, Sami men were targeted. A few of these were shamans.
Translation of the historical part of the book to be read here (PDF). Translated from Norwegian by Katjana Edwardsen.
‘Historical Approaches to Child Witches’, Oxford Bibliographies, 2015, (PDF), DOI 10.1093/OBO/9780199791231-0156
‘The Historical Dimension: From Court Records to Exhibition Texts’ in Reidun Laura Andreassen and Liv Helene Willumsen (ed.), Steilneset Memorial. Art, Architecture, History (Stamsund, 2014), p. 31–48
‘Introduction’ in Reidun Laura Andreassen and Liv Helene Willumsen (ed.), Steilneset Memorial. Art, Architecture, History (Stamsund, 2014), p. 1–10. Co-author Reidun Laura Andreassen.
’From Fife to Finnmark. John Cunningham’s Way to Finnmark’, The Genealogist, vol. 28, no. 2, (Fall 2014), p. 180–199 (PDF)
’Children accused of witchcraft in 17-th century Finnmark’, Scandinavian Journal of History, vol. 38, no. 1, 2013, p. 18-41 (PDF)
’Exporting the Devil across the North Sea: John Cunningham and the Finnmark Witch-Hunt’ in Julian Goodare (ed.), Scottish Witches and Witch-Hunters (Basingstoke, 2013), p. 49–66 (PDF)
‘The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: magic, witchcraft and dark shamanism in seventeenth-century Scotland’ in Women’s History Review, Eastbourne, 2013, vol. 22, no. 3, p. 509–511 (PDF)
‘Witch in the North – Reality and Fiction’ in Ulla Manns and Fia Sundevall (ed.), Methods, interventions, and reflections: report from the 10th Nordic Women’s and Gender History Conference, Bergen, Norway, 9-12 August 2012, Makadam Publisher (Gøteborg/Stockholm, 2014), p. 173–183
‘Seventeenth-century Witchcraft Trials in Scotland and Northern Norway. Comparative Aspects‘, History Research, 2011
‘A Narratological Approach to Witchcraft Studies: A Scottish Case’, Journal of Early Modern History, vol. 15, 2011, p. 531-560 (PDF)
’Introduction’ in The Witchcraft Trials in Finnmark, Northern Norway, Bergen 2010, p. 11-18
"Witches in Scotland and Northern Norway. Two case studies" in Peter Graves and Arne Kruse (ed.): Images and Imaginations. Perspectives on Britain and Scandinavia, Lockharton Press, Edinburgh, 2007, p. 35-66. (PDF)
"Witches of the High North", Scandinavian Journal of History, no. 3, 1996, p. 199-221 (PDF)
’Northern Witches’, Tolbooth Museum, Interdiciplinary North Seminar Series 2014, University of Aberdeen, 12 December 2014
’On my Work with Steilneset Memorial Text Exhibition’, Keynote-speaker at Symposium: Fire from the North, Norwegian Art College, Oslo, 24 October 2014
‘The Finnmark Witchcraft Trials: Ideas About Witches’ Gatherings’, presentation 12 September 2014 at the conference Witches and Demons: The Impact of Demonology on European Witch Hunts, University of Tromsø 11-13 September 2014
’On the history behind Steilneset Memorial”, presentation 27 August at the conference Den lange reisen – en nasjonal konferanse om turistveger, trolldom, kvinner og demokrati [The long journey- a national conference on tourist routes, witchcraft, women, and democracy], Vardø, 27 – 28 August 2014. Arranged by National Tourist Routes, Norway
’Transmitting witchcraft ideas across Europe’, Round Table Conference, The 28. Nordic History Meeting, Joensuu, Finland, 16 August 2014
’17th Century Witchcraft Trials in Orkney and Shetland’, Departemental Seminar in Celtic & Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, 25 April 2008
’Witch-trials in Finnmark and Scotland- Torture and Confession’, The Midnight Sun Witchcraft Conference, Vardø, 29 June 2007
’Seventeenth Century Witchcraft documents from Scotland and Norway’, The Conference A Woman's Island? Shetland Women - Past, present and Future, Lerwick, Shetland, 21 April 2007
’Witches in Scotland and Northern Norway’, History Research Seminar, School of History and Classics, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1 March 2007
Exhibition texts, Memorial Hall, Steilneset Memorial to the Victims of the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials
List of persons accused of witchcraft during the Finnmark Witchcraft Trials, Northern Norway (PDF)