The Salem Witch Trials Memorial preserves a moment in history, when 17th-century residents of colonial Massachusetts tried and executed women and men accused of witchcraft. The site, a small grassy area surrounded by stone walls and locust trees, is just one of the many witchcraft hysteria attractions in the historical town of Salem.
Enter the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, a small park, through the stone threshold where the accuseds’ statements of innocence are inscribed. Then feel the palatable history as you rest on one of the 20 granite benches, each inscribed with the victim’s name and date of execution. Designed by Maggie Smith and James Cutler, the memorial is based on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC.
Salem is chockablock with witchery reminders, and guided tours often combine the Salem Witch Trial Memorial with visits to the 1637 Burial Point, downtown Salem, and the Salem Witch Village. Many visitors come as a day trip from Boston, only 30 minutes away, and spend time exploring the town of Salem, which is compact and very walkable.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is a must for anyone into witchy, spooky history.
- The memorial does not offer any services but is close to facilities at the Salem Witch Village and the Salem Wax Museum.
- The Salem Village Witchcraft Victims Memorial, distinct from the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) away in Danvers, Massachusetts.
- The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is on Liberty Street between Charter and Derby streets. Many of the town’s historic sites, hotels, and restaurants are within a few blocks. Parking is available for a fee on public streets and in the town’s many parking lots. Direct train service from Boston to Salem is available daily on the Newburyport/Rockport line from North Station.
When to Get There
The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is open year-round, and is outside so best to visit when the weather is pleasant. Many nearby attractions have limited (if any) hours in winter, which means fewer lines but cold toes. The town hosts events all year, including events for the new and full moons. October, the season of the witch, brings Halloween, the Official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, and many other events in tune with the season.
The Witch Trials, Then and Now
The Salem Witch Trials, held in 1692, began with the hanging of Bridget Bishop at Proctor’s Ledge near Gallows Hill, also in Salem. John Hathorne, the judge of the Salem Witch Trials, died in 1717 and is buried at the Old Burying Point Cemetery next door to the memorial. The witch trials’ tercentenary, celebrated in 1992, featured a dedication speech by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.