Archeologists restoring old buildings in Newark-on-Trent in the UK have uncovered a perfectly-preserved green “witch bottle” that was once believed to protect buildings from evil spirits and witches and appears to have done a pretty good job since at least 1680.
Witch bottles were popular in 17th century England and North America as a “bottled spell” to ward off witches. To protect a home, the bottle would be filled with the owner’s hair, nail clippings and urine as well as small personal items and bent nails. It was then buried in a corner or hidden in a fireplace or a wall or under the house. The protective power stayed in the bottle as long as it was buried, hidden or unbroken. Some believed that tossing a witch bottle into a fire causing it to explode would kill the witch who cast the curse it was protecting against.
This 6-inch tall green witch bottle was found in Newark by archeologists working at the site of the Old Magnus Buildings, structures built by Thomas Magnus in 1529 as a free school. The original Tudor Hall building still remains and the work is being done to restore the building and grounds to be used as the country’s first National Civil War Center.
While the building dates to 1529, the witch bottle appears to be from around 1680, a period after the English Civil War that was bad for women and men believed to be witches. The bottle appears to have survived intact because it was buried with extreme care. Or was it the power inside the bottle?
Bryony Robins, the Project Manager for Newark and Sherwood District Council, had this to say about the witch bottle, which is expected to be on display when the center opens:
If it really can ward off evil spells, it will be good to have it back.