'Witch bottle' discovered in England

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A 17th century "witch bottle" used to rid the sick of evil spells has been found intact, containing finger nail clippings, hair and pins.

Around 200 witch bottles have been found in the past but this is thought to be the first time one with its contents intact has been discovered.

Scientists have analysed the contents of the former wine jug after it was discovered by builders redeveloping a site in Greenwich, south east London.


They found it contained a number of pins, finger nails and hair as well as a liquid ? discovered to be urine.

Burial of vessels holding personal items, typically from someone suffering an illness and believing themselves persecuted by a witch, was a common practice in the 17th century.

The belief was that the act would reflect the spell back at the witch who would then be forced to relinquish it. The pins and nails were thought to act like pins in voodoo dolls.

Analysis of the contents showed the patient was a smoker and probably quite wealthy judging by the length of the finger nails, the researchers told British Archaeology.


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