The noaidi Anders Poulsen was arrested in Nesseby in Finnmark in 1691. He was charged with possession of a “runebomme” (drum), which was also confiscated.
During the hearing and the trial which followed (1692) Anders Poulsen explained the symbols on the drum and how he used them. The court thought the drum and its use were the work of the devil, but since nobody accused Poulsen of doing them any harm with his arts, they were unsure whether he could be condemned to death.
The case against Poulsen must be seen in the context of the witch hunts being carried out throughout Europe between about 1450 and 1750. In north Norway these were mainly directed against Norwegian women, but also some Sámi, especially men.
The court in Vadsř never got as far as condemning Anders Poulsen. He was beaten to death by a mad man while he sat in custody.
Anders Poulsen’s drum is now kept in the Sámi Collection in Karasjok. A copy is on show in Varanger Sámi Museum in the municipality of Nesseby.
Leem, Knud, 1776: Beskrivelse over Finmarkens Lapper
Hagen, Rune og Per Einar Sparboe, 1998: Trolldom og ugudelighet i 1600-tallets Finnmark
Om rettssaken mot Anders Poulsen