The Mysterious Case of the Witch Bottle

Heritage Calling

In the 16th and 17th centuries, many people believed in witchcraft, and blamed ill-fortune such as their crops failing or the death of a loved one on a witch’s curse. People would do anything to ward off an evil spirit, from creating counter-curses to marking their doorways to keep the witches out. Nowadays we enjoy stories of magic and witchcraft as a part of English folklore, knitted into the history of our historic places, many of which may still hold evidence of a time when people’s superstitions took over their senses.

Chief Executive of Historic England, Duncan Wilson, tells us about his experience with an artefact of superstition, which may have been warding off witches for over 300 years.

bellarmine-jug-flickr Bellarmine jug detail © Dave Gibbons

“I first encountered a Bellarmine jug wandering along the Thames foreshore near Barnes as a small boy: my first attempt at mud larking. More…

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