Salem Witch Trials testimony makes $137,000

An original testimony from the Salem witch trials realised $137,000 in a rare books sale at Christie’s earlier this week.

The remarkable document is attributed to a woman named Mary Daniel and was used to convict another woman, Margaret Scott, of witchcraft.

Salem Witch Trial

This testimony relates a horrifying supernatural attack

It reads: "There appeared to me the shape of some woman, who seemed to look and speak most fiercely and angrily, and beat, pinch’d and afflicted me very sorely…

“In some of ye fits yt I had afterwards, I was senseless and knew not yt I saw who it was yt afflicted me."

"I was taken very ill again all over & felt a great pricking in ye soles of my feet, and after a while I saw apparently the shape of Margret Scott, who, as I was sitting in a chair by ye fire pulled me with ye chair, down backward to ye ground, and tormented and pinched me very much, and I saw her go away at ye door, in which fit I was dumb and so continued till ye next morning, finding a great load and heaviness upon my tongue..."

Margaret Scott was found guilty and hanged soon after.

One theory offers an intriguing explanation for the phenomena experienced by people of Salem between 1691 and 1692.

It suggests that the town’s grain may have become contaminated with a fungus called ergot, which grows on rye and has the same properties as the hallucinogenic LSD.

Ergot only appears in specific conditions. As it happens, the growing season in 1691 was just right.

The following year did not have these ideal conditions, explaining why the phenomena suddenly stopped.  

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