Witches of the North

Scotland and Finnmark


Witches of the North. Scotland and Finnmark is a comparative study of witchcraft persecution in Scotland and Finnmark, Norway. A wide range of quantitative and qualitative analyses based mainly on legal documents shed light on the witch-hunts in the two regions during the seventeenth century. Statistical analyses give information about tendencies in the source material in total. The qualitative chapters contain close-readings of trial documents, wherein the various voices heard during a trial are analysed: the voice of the scribe, the voice of the law, the voice of the accused person and the voices of the witnesses. The analyses combined provide a broad view of the historical phenomenon in question as well as in-depth studies of individual witchcraft cases.

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Liv Helene Willumsen, Ph. D. (2008) in History, University of Edinburgh, is Professor of History at the Department of History and Religious Studies, University of Tromsø. Her recent publications include Witchcraft Trials in Finnmark, Northern Norway (2010), the exhibition texts at Steilneset Memorial, Finnmark (2011), Witches of the North: Scotland and Finnmark (2013), and Steilneset Memorial. Art Arcitecture History (2014).
"Von ausserordentlichen Interesse sind die quantitativen Aussagen, welche die Verfasserin auf der Grundlage der ihr zur Verfügung stehenden Daten machen kann. Willumsens mikrohistorischer Ansatz füllt die «nackten» Zahlen mit Leben. Ein facetten- und aufschlussreicher Band."
Georg Modestin in SZRKG 110 (Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions- und Kulturgeschichte)

"Willumsen’s Witches of the North is a richly suggestive, satisfying and important contribution to the study of witchcraft, both locally and globally. [...] innovative, informative, thought-provoking and valuable in many different ways"
Marion Gibson, University of Exeter in Acta Borealia, October 2015
Full review: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08003831.2015.1089714

‘’The book is intended to provide a specific, comparative, regional study and serve as a general model of comparative history and the narratological approach. Its primary audience is scholars of early modern witchcraft, but it will also be of interest to historians of the law, popular culture, and the regions it covers.’’
Edward Bever, SUNY College at Old Westbury. In: Renaissance Quarterly , Vol. 67, No. 4, Winter 2014, p. 1412

"...a wealth of useful data..."
Ronald Hutton in Historisk Tidsskrift 93.1

"Willumsen's study strengthens the argument that demonological trials could lead to higher levels of witchcraft persecution. Her detailed analysis of court records provides new data on execution rates and gender biases and her comparative approach allows us to see trends between two countries which both experienced severe witchcraft persecution. Although further work needs to be done, this study encourages us to think about key similarities between other European regions."
Charlotte-Rose Millar in Women's History Review, 23.5

All those interested in witchcraft persecution, seventeenth-century ideas related to witchcraft, close-readings of legal documents, courtroom discourse, the history of mentalities, transference of ideas, and gendered approach to historical sources.
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