166 – Pin

Physical description:
Long brass pin.
Museum classification:
150 mm long

A witch was thought to have a 'devil's mark' or 'witch's mark' that was insensitive to pain. Pins such as this were used to test these marks. This one was recovered from a church's chest. Original text by Cecil Williamson: "The principle of witch pricking is as follows, a person taken and accused of being a witch is stripped naked and her body examined for devil marks, that is blotches akin to birth marks, when found, she is questioned about how she came by such marks or scars, during the questioning a long pin or needle is driven deep into the mark and then withdrawn should the person be insensitive to the pin being driven in or on the pin's withdrawal no blood issues from the pin prick, then that is proof certain that the accused is a witch, away with her to the stake. This amazing relic was recovered many years ago from a church's document chest. It is the actual pin provided and used by the church authorities for witch pricking."

CWOLC 7335 records some details about this object:

"This witch finder's pin was discovered many years ago by the church warden of a small parish church in Suffolk while searching through old papers and marriage records.  With it was a letter from a bygone vicar describing his abhorrence of the method of pricking as a means of proving witchcraft, and a statement of his actions when a self-styled witch finder came to the village offering his services.  This stout-hearted vicar confiscated the witch finder's pricker before sending him packing."

Copyright ownership:
Copyright to The Museum of Witchcraft Ltd.