Lisbet Nypan

Approximately 1610-1670
Lisbet Nypan’s original name was Elisabeth Pedersdatter. After she married Ole from the farm called Nypan in Leinstrand south of Trondheim, she took on the name she is known by. Ole was born in 1602, while the year of Lisbeth's birth is unknown. They probably had several children together.
In Leinstrand and elsewhere these were very hard and dismal times, and an era when many people were not enlightened. Many things in day-to-day life could not be explained, and superstition kept a solid grip on the world of ideas. Lisbeth was no exception to this. But people came to her with their illnesses and complaints because she had the reputation of being a healer. Her methods were in the boundary between faith, black arts and natural medicine. Thus she enjoyed respect, but some people were also worried that she might have powers that could be used just as much for evil as for good. Her husband Ole may also have had a special ability to disagree and come into disputes with others, often when the drink was involved. When this happened, he would often remind people who he was married to. When people or livestock then fell ill, the flame of rumours was easily fanned.
In August 1670 a court case started which was to have dire consequences for Lisbeth and Ole. The investigations started in Leinstrand, and continued in the courthouse in Trondheim. Initially the couple was accused of slander but the case would soon focus more directly on the two of them. Later commentators have suggested that this was a planned power game by the contemporary elite, who also did not like activities they could not understand or control. Through testimony from witnesses it was concluded that Lisbeth was in league with the devil, and that she would be burned at the stake. Ole would only be beheaded. Later in the autumn Lisbeth was burned at the stake at the wall of the Archbishop's Palace in Trondheim.
Even after 1670, livestock died in Leinstrand, and people continued to fall ill. The suspicions against Lisbeth still lingered for a long time. But she was one of the last to be burned at the stake as a witch in Norway. In our more enlightened time Lisbeth Nypan is commemorated with her name on a street in Kattem, and apparently it does not cause anybody any harm to live there!
Recommended reading: Erling Lauglo - Leinstrand, et lite stykke Norge [Leinstrand – a small piece of Norway]. Leinstrand municipality, 1957-1958.

Author: Einar Rædergård