Earlier this fall I visited one of my best friends, Ashley,
and her fiancé Dave, in their new home in Swampscott, Massachusetts, located
about a half hour outside of Boston. Now, the town may have “swamp” in its
name, but the charming suburb feels anything but. With a street of restaurants
and shops, a marina, and a beach, it’s about as quaint as you could want a New
England coastal town to be.
Me and Ashley at the beach in her town.
While the primary purpose of this trip was to catch up with
my dear friend, we also explored the area quite a lot, making our way to
downtown Boston for an evening, and then spending a day window shopping in
Marblehead and engaging in various spooky activities in nearby Salem (of witch
With Halloween this upcoming weekend, what better time to
talk about the witches and ghosts of Salem?
The Salem witch trials took place between 1692 and 1693.
During this time, 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft. Twenty were
executed. This came on the heels of a period in Europe during which time tens
of thousands of individuals (mostly women) were executed under suspicion of
witchcraft. While leaders in the colony acknowledged that this was unfair and
unlawful within decades of it occurring, Massachusetts didn’t formally
apologize until 1957 (nearly 250 years later).
One of the stones memorializing one of the victims of the Salem witch trials at the Witch Trials Memorial in downtown Salem.
With this grim history looming, it’s no surprise then that
the town is also considered one of the more haunted spots in the United States.
After all, on a brief walk through a cemetery in Marblehead (which happens to
be the spot where Hocus Pocus was
filmed), you’ll see countless gravestones dated as early as 1630. Of course
there would be restless spirits here!
While I didn’t see any ghosts this trip, when Ashley and I visited Salem together a few years ago, we learned about a ghost who often appears in photos as a bolt of light coming out of a gravestone in the cemetery in downtown Salem. Skeptical but hopeful, everyone on our tour started taking pictures of the graves. Sure enough, one person on the tour captured a long, thin bolt of light that looked as if it were cutting a gravestone in half. Could it have been a ghost? I’m inclined to think so.
Gravestones at Old Burial Hill in Marblehead
Salem is a fantastic place to visit anytime of the year, but
especially during the fall, when the buzz of the witching season pervades the
touristy town. There are countless witch museums, ghost tours, and even a
monster museum. For those who fright easily, however, you can also enjoy a tour
of the historic House of the Seven Gables (which inspired Nathanial Hawthorn’s
novel of the same name), stroll around the Salem Maritime National Historic
Site, and grab a brew at the Salem Beer Works.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site