07 November 2014

17th century witchmarks

As reported in the International Business Times:
Witch markings dating to the 17th Century have been uncovered by archaeologists at a stately home in Kent and are believed to have been created to protect King James following the gunpowder plot of 1605.

Experts working at Knole house discovered the witchmarks in a room built to accommodate royalty. They had been hidden for centuries in beams and joists below the floorboards and on a fireplace in the Upper King's Room...

The witchmarks, or apotropaic marks, are carved intersecting lines and symbols believed to form a "demon trap" to ward off evil and prevent demonic possession. The marks include chequerboard and mesh designs, as well as interlocking V-shapes on the beams and joists – a symbol that stands for Virgo Virginum that invokes the protection of Mary the Mother of God.


  1. I'll bet they're as likely to be carpenters marks...

  2. James I certainly did his part to promote the fear of and the hysteria around witchcraft.

  3. Using geometric designs to confuse, bind, or hinder notional evil spirits. Now where have I heard of that before? See also sacred geometry.

    Entirely bogus of course since there is no evidence that there is anything like a spirit, let alone an evil spirit. It is fascinating hokum however.

    1. I have two dreamcatchers in my office, watching my back as I blog... I should blog about them some day.

    2. Well despite my skepticism I hope they bring you luck.

    3. They were given to me years ago when I was on the road giving lectures on sleep paralysis and nightmares. Presumably I am now afforded some measure of protection against incubi and old hags if I fall asleep at my desk.


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