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The 300-year-old witch bottle found underneath the National Civil War Centre

a photo of a man in cloak and large felt hat holding a ottle as a woman in 17th century dress sits in the background

Adam Nightingale plays the part of the notorious Witchfinder General with Denise Greany acting out the role of his unfortunate victim. He is holding a 300 year witch bottle, found buried near the National Civil War Centre.

The witch bottle discovered in the wall of the Civil War Centre

This spooky 300-year-old glass witch bottle was discovered intact by an archaeologist in front of the National Civil War Centre’s Old Magnus Building home in 2013.

Curators believe it may once have contained nail clippings, urine and hair – a magical concoction that was thought to protect a householder from evil spells.

Witch bottles were buried hidden in a corner of the house, inside the walls or under the hearth. Householders believed they would contain a witch as long as it remained unbroken, so they went to great lengths to conceal them.

Beliefs such as this were particularly prevalent in the East of England and, as with many things to do witchcraft, the first mention of witch bottles came in the seventeenth century. During the civil war period England was awash with deeply-held superstitious beliefs. Witches were thought to lurk around every corner.

a photo of a man with hat and bear holding a bulbous glass bottle

Courtesy The National Civil War Centre.

It was amidst this poisonous atmosphere that one of the century’s most infamous characters emerged – the self-appointed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins.

Hopkins and his entourage travelled across eastern England staging brutal inquisitions, which resulted in the deaths of 300 women during the terrible years of 1644 – 1646 when the First English Civil War was in full flow across the country.

Royalists, Parliamentarians, witches and witchfinders are all welcome to visit the National Civil War Centre. Find out more at www.nationalcivilwarcentre.com

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National Civil War Centre

Newark, Nottinghamshire

It was Britain's deadliest conflict and one which shaped our modern world. Why did brother take up arms against brother and how did a once all-powerful monarch lose his head to the axeman? Discover how the people of Newark survived three sieges by dodging cannon fire, hammering flat family silver…

 

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