4 Jun 2009

which witch?

This is a witch bottle, and was found 15 minutes from my house... I knew there was something up with this bloody area...
From New Scientist:
The salt-glazed jar was discovered 1.5 metres below ground by archaeologists from The Maritime Trust, a Greenwich-based charity that preserves historic sailing vessels. When it was shaken, the bottle splashed and rattled, and an X-ray showed pins and nails stuck in the neck, suggesting that it had been buried upside down. Further computed tomography scans showed it to be half-filled with liquid, which later analysis showed to be human urine. The bottle also contained bent nails and pins, a nail-pierced leather "heart", fingernail clippings, navel fluff and hair. The presence of iron sulphide in the mixture also suggests that sulphur or brimstone had been added.

Witch bottles were commonly buried to ward off spells during the late 16th and 17th centuries, but it is very rare to find one still sealed. During the 17th century, British people often blamed witches for any ill health or misfortune they suffered, says Massey. "The idea of the witch bottle was to throw the spell back on the witch," he says. "The urine and the bulb of the bottle represented the waterworks of the witch, and the theory was that the nails and the bent pins would aggravate the witch when she passed water and torment her so badly that she would take the spell back off you."