Witches Watching their Weight…

Witch on the moveThe middle ages were dodgy times for women everywhere.  People were really superstitious in those days. If you were a woman and you behaved strangely or used herbal remedies, chances were you’d be accused of witch craft. The problem was that some proof was required, so the authorities came up with several tests that were supposed to prove without any doubt whether a woman was a witch or not.

Testing Witches

An accused woman might be made to walk on hot coal to see if she would blister, or she might be thrown in deep water to see if she would float. If you think about it – neither test gave the women any chance at all of course. And then there was the weighing test

Did you know that…

Nobody knows how manywomen were executed in Europe for being a witch, but it is somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000.

Witches fly on broom sticks – we all know that. Logic followed that you had to be very light to be a witch. And that’s where the Weight Test came in. Women were weighed on special witches scales to prove their guilt or innocence.

Of course, weigh masters were not always honest, and their services could easily be bought.


Witches' Scales, Oudewater

Certificate of Innocence

One town in the Netherlands called Oudewater became famous for its honest weigh master, and was given the royal right to issue ‘certificates of innocence’ to women who had been cleared of being too light. Word spread all over Europe and thousands of women travelled to Oudewater to be weighed – just in case… Once you had the certificate you could never again be accused, so it was literally worth its weight in gold.

Today, you can still go to Oudewater to be weighed today, and they’ll even give you a certificate. But beware, you might be found too light. Better have a big breakfast first… 🙂