Witch bottle found at Newark building site

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Archaeologists have found a bottle used hundreds of years ago to ward off witches and evil spirits. The “witch bottle” was found during a dig to pave the way for the £5.4m restoration of the Old Magnus Building by Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Witch bottle found at Newark building site
Kevin Winter, collections assistant at the National Civil War Centre, 
with the “witch bottle” [Credit: National Civil War Centre]

The grade two listed structure on Appletongate will house the UK’s first National Civil War Centre when it opens in spring next year, backed by £3.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The 15-centimetre green glass bottle probably dates from the 1700s. Similar bottles were once filled with fingernails, hair and even urine, all contents linking a building with its owner, to ward off witches’ spells.

Witch bottle found at Newark building site
The bottle was probably made in the 1700s and used to ward off witches’ 
evil spells [Credit: National Civil War Centre]

Will Munford, of Pre-construct Archaeological Services, said: “We often forget that people were very superstitious – it was part of their everyday lives. They thought that secreting such personal objects would offer protection from malign forces.”

Bryony Robins, Old Magnus Building project manager with Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “We hope to display the bottle when the National Civil War Centre opens next year.”

Source: Nottingham Post [October 21, 2014]

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