Aland stamp marks 350th anniversary of first witch hunt in the Swedish kingdom


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01 February 2016
5haxprocesser_frimarke_press_35x35mm_300dpi_rgb-15148.jpg The stamp features a dramatic witch hunting scene
A new stamp from Aland dramatically depicts the outbreak of the Swedish kingdom's earliest witch hunts.

A new stamp from Aland dramatically depicts the outbreak of the Swedish kingdom's earliest witch hunts.

Due to be issued on 8 April, 2016, the stamp marks the 350th anniversary of Aland's questionable honour of having started witch hunting in the Swedish kingdom, part of a Europe-wide movement of fear and hysteria which led to the gruesome torture and execution of hundreds of women accused of witchcraft.


On 5 April 1666, proceedings were instituted against Karin Persdotter from Emkarby. Known as 'the wise bitch', she was accused of practising sorcery; she was thought to be able to find lost items, single out thieves and foresee who was going to die. From whom had she received the gift if not from the Devil, her accusers asked? Convicted of witchcraft, she was condemned to be executed by axe and burnt at the stake.

The driving force in the Åland witch-hunt were district judge and zealous witch expert Nils Psilander, and Bryniel Kjellinius,a  pastor in Sund. The men visited Karin in Kastelholm jail, asking for her 'full and truthful confession' so that she could receive Holy Communion before death. In the end, she informed on thirteen women. A total of seven women were executed during this period, including Karin. Many more Åland women were prosecuted and tortured, none of whom, however, were burnt alive at the stake, neither was the so called trial by water ordeal applied.

The Åland witch-hunts preceded the outbreaks in both Sweden (1668) and Finland (1669). The last witch trial in Åland took place in 1691.

The stamp, designed by Juha Pykäläinen, features a dramatic illustration of a woman accused of witchcraft kneeling before a pastor holding a Bible. An expectant crowd watch the scene, whilst next to the accused, an axeman stands ominiously beside a fire.


Issue date: 8 April 2016

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Designer: Juha Pykäläinen

Denomination: €1.30

Size: 35mm x 35mm

Printer: Cartor Security Printing

To purchase the stamps, visit the Aland Post website.


(Image copyright Aland Post)