Saturday, May 25, 2019

Witch Bottles

From Atlas Obscura:
BACK IN 17TH-CENTURY BRITAIN, CERTAIN small containers had a big job. “Witch bottles” were ceramic jugs filled with a cocktail of curious ingredients, thought to protect against bewitchment. Today, a team of historians and archaeologists are on a witch hunt of their own to find more of these mysterious bottles. 
The three-year project, Bottles Concealed and Revealed, centers around the phenomenon of bottle magic, which gained notoriety through texts such as Astrological Practice of Physick, published in 1671. The book offered a how-to guide for preparing a bottle that might protect its owner from the forces of witchcraft. Over the years, researchers have unearthed objects that appear to be witch bottles in all sorts of places—after a bit of digging. 
“These items were deliberately concealed,” says Nigel Jeffries, a finds specialist at the Museum of London Archaeology. “Whilst they have been largely found in hearths or chimneys, [or] built under walls or floors, they have also been located close to watercourses and a host of other contexts.” Most of the bottles already known to researchers were dug up starting in the 1950s, usually during renovations of historic buildings and homes from the late medieval period. According to Jeffries, “they are always found alone.” (Read more.)

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