Literal Witch Hunts

Vardø Witch Trials

At the height of Europe's witch trials, the northern coast of Norway had a disproportionate number of executions for sorcery. The small fishing community in the Arctic circle staged 140 trials, and sentenced 91 of the accused witches to death.

Decades before the Salem trials, an East Hampton woman was tried for witchcraft. Before Lion Gardiner's daughter died, she accused Goody Garlick of bewitching her. Goody Garlick had hearings in two towns, during which she was accused of other bewitchings.

What really happened in Salem?

In 1692, girls in Salem Village experienced fevers, pains and strange behavior. A doctor deemed the affliction supernatural, and the girls pinned the blame on several people. These accusations led to a witch hunt -- but what was really to blame?

Some researchers allege that ergot poisoning may have been responsible for triggering the Salem witchcraft trials -- but is this fact, or fiction? Learn more about ergot and the Salem witch trials in this HowStuffWorks podcast.