Talk by Museum Managers at St Tudy History Society
Judith and Peter Hewitt, the Museum managers were invited to give a talk to St Tudy History Society last week. The meetings are held in the historic building “The Clink” which is right next to the Church in this historic Cornish village (near Bodmin Moor). Here are some photos of Peter arriving at the Clink.
The group contacted the Museum and asked for a talk on a specific subject: protection magic for homes. One of their members (who lives in the village) had found ritual marks in their old property and the group were keen to find out more about objects concealed within homes as well as ritual marks.
We took along a few objects from the Museum’s “concealed object display” including a couple of Witch bottles, a witch’s lump figure (found in a wall in a field) and also the small terracotta baby (found inside the wall of a house).
Peter delivered the majority of the talk deriving some of his information from his researches for his PhD thesis (which included a chapter on concealed shoes in Stratford Upon Avon) and his more recent (and ongoing) research into Cornish concealed objects and ritual marks.
The talk began with an exploration of “daisy wheel” marks. Peter included as many local examples as possible including these images from Tintagel Church.
Here is some information from one of the slides from Peter’s powerpoint.
Peter also discussed this object which was recently acquired by the Museum (and is now on display in our Protection gallery upstairs).
The talk then moved on to consider other marks found in homes such as burn marks on fireplaces (this example is from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford upon Avon).
And so called “Marian Marks”, this example from inside a fire place at Sir Isaac Newton’s home in Lincolnshire.
The talk then moved on to concealed objects and included a detail discussion of witch bottles. One couple in the audience were particularly interested as they had discovered a witch bottle with pins in it in their fireplace. They brought it along for everyone to have a look at and have promised the Museum some photos for our archive (they are going to put the bottle back where they found it).
Peter spoke about the concealed shoe cache he had researched from Stratford upon Avon and its possible meanings and purpose. This led to more revelations from the listening group as they told us of shoes they had found in their properties.
Concealed cats were next up with objects from the Museum’s collection in the frame. Another member of the history group told us about a pair of large wings they had found in the floor of the cellar of their house. Peter was aware of other examples of this practice and suggested they may be goose wings. Geese are known for their noisiness and their usefulness as “guard dogs” and the belief may have been that the spirit of the goose would continue to protect the house.
The talk was incredibly well received (the group had their best ever turn out and several new members had joined just to hear about the Museum!) We really enjoyed talking to local people, hearing about their finds and encouraging them to visit the Museum. We have several more talks lined up this year – if you would like to invite the Museum to speak at an event or group near you please email Judith at the Museum (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will try to be there if we can!