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Oct 29, 2012

Archaeologist discovers witchcraft site on her front lawn

As an archaeologist, I'm always wondering what's under the land I'm walking on. I've had the privilege to live next to a Roman road, on a Mesolithic camp site, and near a Bronze age burial mound. That's not too exceptional if you live in England.

Archaeologist Jacqui Wood in Cornwall, however, has me beat. When she decided to do some construction on her land she found evidence of witchcraft rituals dating back centuries. She's uncovered a series of pits dug into the earth that were filled with swan skins covered in feathers. The skins had been turned inside out so that the feathers lined the pit.

One of the pits included not only the swan skin, but the claws of several different species of bird and pebbles found only on the coastline at least 15 miles away. Another pit had 55 eggs sitting on top of the swan-feather lining, including seven feathers that were ready to hatch. Magpie remains had been placed on either side of the eggs. Some of the pits had been emptied but still had a few feathers and stones remaining to show what had been there.

Radiocarbon dating found that the earliest swan skins dated to the 1640s during the English Civil War. Eerily, others dated as recently as the 1950s. One even had plastic in it!

Wood also discovered a spring-fed pool lined with white quartz so that it would glow in the moonlight. As offerings, the locals had thrown in strips of cloth, nail cuttings, heather branches, pins, and bits of shoe.

I'm not well versed in paganism, so I'll put it out to my readers. Anyone know what these rituals could have been for?

Maybe next she'll find a witch bottle!

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