One of the most widely known events in American is the Salem Witchcraft Trials, which in 1692 resulted in the deaths of twenty victims, nineteen by hanging. What was never certain until now is the actual site of the gallows where the executions took place. With no evidence that gallows were ever constructed, it has long been assumed that a tree was used, perhaps one located at the summit of a landmark known as Gallows Hill. Since 2010, a study has been ongoing to identify the execution site by studying court records and eye witness accounts, aerial photography, and advance mapping technology.
Major clues were found in two reports that indicated that the witnesses observed the hangings from the windows of a house along Boston Street, which is located below a site called Proctor’s Ledge, which at the time was used as a public grazing area. It is not possible to see the top of Gallows Hill from that spot. Because the purpose of public executions was to encourage onlookers to stay on the straight and narrow, it is unlikely that the summit was used as the hanging site. Proctor’s Ledge is located in between what is now Proctor and Pope streets. It is hoped that the town of Salem will arrange for a proper memorial nearby.
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