So I told my kids to go up on that age-old weighing scale to be weighted to see if they are witches. 😝
As it turned out, they are not. Officially certified and everything! 😃
This was Museum De Heksenwaag, in Oudewater. A random detour to a small town as we passed the province of Utrecht.
During the late 15th century and early 16th century, witch hunts were quite common. People accused of sorcery were burned at the stake or drowned.
There was an old belief that a witch has no soul. Therefore, a person would weigh significantly less than an average human being. This would make it possible for the witches to fly on a broomstick.
Museum De Heksenwaag simply means Museum of the Witches’ Weighing House. The property, The Waag, where the museum is housed was built in 1482 as the city’s official weighing venue for goods.
In 1545, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (Dutch: Keizer Karel V) blessed Oudewater the privilege of carrying out fair weighing process, in finding out whether or not one is actually a witch. The weighing scale was not known to be honourable. It was the only place in Europe recognized as such. For over a hundred years, visitors from near and far travelled to Oudewater just for this one purpose. An honest chance to proof their innocence and/or to avoid prosecution. After every successful weighing, an official certificate was issued proclaiming that the aforementioned person was not a witch. Certificates stated that “the body weight is in proportion to its build.”.
It must have been a public spectacle! Nonetheless, no one was ever found to be a witch in Oudewater.
Today the Heksenwaag / Witches’ Weighing House is a tourist attraction. A tiny museum all about the history of witches and witchery in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Your museum visit begins on the upper floor. Start by watching a short audiovisual presentation then followed by reading information panels provided in Dutch and English. Learn about the witches tests, stories of sorcery and witch trials. Check out the small book collection too.
The museum visit rounds back on the ground floor. Let yourself be weighed on the original scales dating from 1482. Don’t forget the take home the coveted certificate from the Weigh Master. However, if you do not want the people (public around you) to know your exact weight, do not go on that scale! Your true kilograms will be announced for all to hear in order to prove that you are of a normal human weight. 😉 I’m just saying. 🙄
The duration of this museum visit is about 30 minutes. It was entertaining.
Address: Leeuweringerstraat 2. 3421 AC Oudewater.
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun from 11am – 5pm. Mondays are open only during the months of July & August.
Entrance Fees: €6.50 for adult, €3.00 for kids age 4-11yrs old and free for kids under 4 years old. Free entry for Museumkaart holders.
Note: Only the ground floor is wheelchair accessible.