‘Witch bottle’ containing finger nails, hair and pins uncorkedJune 4th, 2009 - 3:50 pm ICT by ANI
London, June 4 (ANI): A “witch bottle” commonly used to ward off evil spells during the late 16th and 17th centuries has been found intact, containing finger nail clippings, hair and pins.
The sealed bottle, which was unearthed in Greenwich, London, in 2004, has offered a rare insight into the folk beliefs of 17th-century Britons.
Such “magical” artifacts were commonly buried to rid the sick of spells.
“So many have been dug up and their contents washed away down the sink. This is the first one that has been opened scientifically,” New Scientist quoted Alan Massey, a retired chemist formerly at the University of Loughborough, UK, who examined the bottle, as saying.
During that time, Britons used to blame 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. 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,” he said.
The salt-glazed jar was discovered 1.5 metres below ground by archaeologists from The Maritime Trust, a Greenwich-based charity.
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.
The study has been published in the journal British Archaeology. (ANI)
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Tags: 17th centuries, archaeologists, british archaeology, britons, evil spells, finger nail, finger nails, folk beliefs, greenwich london, ill health, loughborough uk, magical artifacts, maritime trust, massey, misfortune, new scientist, rare insight, university of loughborough, waterworks, x ray