Denmark is preparing to open its first witch museum, fittingly in an old hotbed for witch-burning – the Jutland town of Ribe. Danes once feared that witches brought sorcery and evil into their communities, and the courts condemned about 1,000 souls (overwhelmingly female, especially married and over age 50) to a painful death. They were blamed for “crimes” ranging from illnesses in the village, the death of livestock or even a couple’s infertility. Denmark last executed a witch in 1693 – a 74-year-old housewife who was beheaded and then burned – but she and other ill-fated women will have their time in the sun again.

The museum, run by a Jutland museum group, will be housed in a 1581 building with a cross carved into its woodwork hundreds of years ago to ward off evil spirits. The displays and exhibitions will cover not only Danish witches but figures of fear from other cultures. Plans and fundraising are under way and the museum is expected to open in three to four years.

References
For Danish newspaper accounts of the planned witches museum, search “heksemuseum ribe” at Google Denmark
Denmark’s last witch by historie-online.dk (in Danish)
Denmark’s last witch by Landsarkivet for Sjælland (in Danish)
Historie-online.dk: Myths about witches (in Danish)
Maren Spliid – The Witch by Danhostel Ribe
Photo courtesy of Dietegen Guggenbühl, Commons.wikimedia