Some people might ask why we would visit Salem, the site of the 1692 witch trials in August instead of October. Well, I have to tell you, I’ve been to salem many times, including mid October. The October trip was a birthday date for me and my husband and it was a lot of fun. It was also incredibly crazy. If your goal is to see the touristy things that are open year round, as most of them are, avoid Salem in October. That being said, many of these locations offer special Halloween performances and whatnot only on weekends during the month of October, if you want to see some of those, plan ahead. Most places have online ticket purchasing for these special performances so you don’t have to wait in line.
We chose August because we wanted to do all the museums and attractions that are available year round. In all honesty there is enough left for us to do after a FULL day there for us to make another trip to Salem and Danvers (the former Salem Village and home to most of the accused witches) later on this year.
Full disclosure, 2-1/2 year old Emily did not come with us on this trip as it was really geared towards the older kids and I wanted them to have the experience with out their little sister throwing fits during presentations and tours. We got there before 10:00 AM wanting to make sure we had plenty of time to do everything on our to do list.
Our first stop was to purchase our tickets for Cry Innocent.
We decided to wait the hour before the performance was to start Exploring the Old Town Burying Point, which is located very near the Old Town Hall. You will not find any of the hanged witches buried here as they were not allowed to be interred in the public burying grounds. The bodies of a few of the hanged were stolen from Gallows Hill in the dark of night to be given a proper burial on private lands. The remainder were unceremoniously dumped in a hole near the hanging site. The latest archeological research suggests Gallows Hill may be lost forever under a Walgreens parking lot.
We could probably explore the cemetery for ages. I always find myself curious about the names of those I read. I took some photos of some that I wanted to see if I could find out more.
We even found a costumed actor in the cemetery who was able to give us some interesting information about the tombs.
Caleb asked a question about what was inside the tombs? Why were some in tombs and others buried under the ground with just a headstone? Were the bodies just lying between the stone walls mere inches from his hand?
Turns out the answer is no. The bodies of those in the tombs are actually also underground. Well, they weren’t actually buried. A hole was dug as usual the body placed in the ground then the stone tomb built around the hole with the lid placed on top. Why? Sometimes it was a wealthy person who just wanted to show their status by having a large tomb (like the grand mausoleums you see in cemeteries today). Other times it was more like a family mausoleum where it was easier to remove the lid from the tomb to place the next family member in rather than dig a new hole by hand. The tombs have since been filled in and the lids sealed. Air vents have been placed in the walls of the tombs to safely release the gasses created by decomposition.
It really is a beautiful place:
Right next to the cemetery is the Salem Witch Trial Memorial
Follow the links below for our next stops (Links will appear as the posts are completed, so if it doesn’t work try again later):
The Witch History Museum
The Witch House
The Witch Dungeon Museum and
The Salem Witch Museum.
Here are some of our favorite books and movies about the Salem Witch Trials: