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Norway Builds Memorials to Witch Trial Victims

By Christopher Shea

A stark stretch of coast in extreme northeastern Norway has ended up with two striking structures memorializing the 91 victims of a famous witch trial, in 1621. The victims, mostly women, were blamed for a storm that had killed fishermen, unsettling what was then a loosely governed, forbidding region.

The first and more abstract memorial, by the Pritzker-Prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, was inspired by the spindly wooden racks still used by fisherman, and by the local tradition of signaling that someone is home by leaving a light on in the window. Delicate-looking pine scaffolding frames a fabric enclosure, which evokes sails. Inside is a long, dark hallway punctuated by 91 windows, a light hanging by each one.

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