Site Unknown: Gallows Hill: Salem Evening NewsAlthough the actual location of the hanging site for the 1692 witch trials was largely forgotten and, if remembered, disputed, Salem lawyer and antiquarian Sidney Perley located the correct spot by 1901: the rocky outcrop later called Proctor’s Ledge at the base of Gallows Hill. Working with his articles and additional sources, Marilynne Roach came to the same conclusion in 1997.

On Halloween 1997 The Salem Evening News ran a front-page article on the rediscovery—to little response.

But other researchers were aware of her published conclusions and in 2010 Elizabeth Peterson, director at the Witch House / Corwin House (former home of witch trial judge Jonathan Corwin), assembled what would become the Gallows Hill Group: Professors Emerson Baker, Benjamin Ray, and Peter Sablock, filmmaker Tom Phillips, and Marilynne Roach.

After verifying the site and ascertaining that the shallow soil held no burials, these six and others worked quietly for several years with the City of Salem to see that the site and the tragic events that occurred there were properly memorialized.

The Gallows Hill Group issued a press release in January 2016 and, unlike in 1997, this time the news went internationally viral.  Archaeology Magazine included the find as one of the ten most important discoveries of 2016.

The City of Salem had acquired an available part of the site in 1936 during the Great Depression and it was there that the memorial, by landscape architect Martha Lyons, was dedicated on July 19, 2017 before an audience that included many descendants of the nineteen people hanged in that place. 

Marilynne K. Roach, “Gallows Hill Project: (Re-) Discovering Proctor’s Ledge,” American Ancestors, Spring 2017.

Pam Cross, “Site of Salem Hangings during Witchcraft Hysteria Confirmed,” WCVB-TV, Boston, January 13, 2016.

Arianna MacNeill, “Ground Zero: Proctor’s Ledge Confirmed as Witch Execution Site,” The Salem News, January 12, 2016, page 1.

Laura Crimaldi, “Researchers Confirm Site of Salem Hangings,” Boston Globe, January 13, 2016, page 1,

Chantee Lans, “Actual Site of Salem Witch Hangings Discovered,” WBZ-TV, Boston, January 13, 2016,

Ted Siefer, “Monument planned for suspected site of Salem witch hangings,” Reuters, January 13, 2016,

Ed Adamczyk, “Site of Salem, Mass., witchcraft hangings determined,” United Press International, January 13, 2016,

Rupa Shenoy, “Did Salem intentionally forget where the ‘witches’ were killed?” WGBH, Boston Public Radio, January 14, 2016.

Sarah Kaplan, “The Place where Salem’s ‘witches’ were hanged is now next to a Walgreens” Washington Post, January 14, 2016,

Kate Seamons, “Place where Salem ‘witches’ were hanged identified,” USA Today, January 14, 2016,

Andrew Buncombe, “Salem witchcraft hangings site discovered by historical researchers,” The Independent, UK, January 14, 2016,

Ed Mazza, “Salem Witch Trials Execution Site Found, and It's Behind a Walgreens,” Huffington Post, January 15, 2015,

Mark Pratt and Rodrigue Ngowi, “Researchers confirm site of hangings for Salem Witch Trials,” Associated Press, January 15, 2016,

Arianna MacNeill, “Salem Witch Trials descendants share thoughts on Proctor’s Ledge,” Salem News, January 15, 2016,

Caroline Newman, “X Marks the Spot,” USA Today, January 19, 2016,

Dustin Luca, “On 325th anniversary, city dedicates Proctor's Ledge memorial to Salem Witch Trials victims,” The Salem News, July 19, 2017, Andrea Shea, “New Memorial Remembers Victims Hanged at Proctor's Ledge during Salem Witch Trials,” WBUR, 90.9, July 19, 2017.

Christine Woodside, “The Site of the Salem Witch Trial Hangings Finally Has a Memorial.”, July 13, 2017,

© Marilynne K. Roach