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Shoo, ye witches!

You might have seen this story floating around this week. They’ve been doing some work on Knole House, the enormous Grade I listed pile in Sevenoaks, Kent.

They were renovating a room that had originally been remodelled for a visit from King James I and found these crude gouges in the wood on the beams under the floorboards and around the fireplace. Specifically, they found straight lines and crosshatches and V marks cut deep in the wood. Experts say these are apotropaic marks — folk magic intended to ward off witches and other evil.

What’s interesting about them is they’ve done tree ring analysis on the wood and they reckon they can pin the beams down to 1606. That’s just after the Gunpowder Plot. So, they figure, these marks were made to keep evil away from the King at a time he had just survived an assassination attempt.

Actually, I’m lying. That’s not the most interesting thing about them. The most interesting thing is, the picture above isn’t from Knole House, it’s from this house. That carving is on an exposed ceiling beam about ten feet from where I’m sitting right now. We always assumed they were just marks the workmen made to tally something or identify the piece of wood, but they look exactly like the marks at Knole.

No wonder the witches never come to visit.

How impossibly cool is that?

Good weekend, all!

November 7, 2014 — 10:20 pm
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