3853 – Lead Amulet with Daisy Wheel Design

Physical description:
Circular lead talisman inscribed with daisy wheel, hexafoil or 'witch mark'.
Museum classification:
7 cm diameter

This item was found in the back lawn of an old stately home in Winchfield, Hampshire by the donor.

It is a small piece of lead, inscribed with three daisy wheels (two very faint); the design progresses across the face of the lead. On the back, a series of failed circles, daisy wheels, around a number of indented compass-marks can be seen.  The unusual and somewhat sporadic design on the back suggests that this was once a larger piece of lead that was removed and clipped to preserve the daisy-wheel designs. Alternatively the design was inscribed piecemeal on this piece of lead for a specific apotropaic purpose.

The context of the find suggests deposition for ritual purpose, as the daisy-wheel design is well known as a protective mark, either against witchcraft or to preserve a building or area from general harm.

The donor relates a piece of local folklore - 'a mile or so away is a old dead oak tree that is known by locals as the 'witches tree' that supposedly a witch was hung from'.  Perhaps the owners of the house wanted to protect their property from this supposed witch?

Whilst daisy-wheels are often found on buildings and upon furniture, it was very unusual to find them on portable objects like this.  The lack of a suspension hole does not suggest that it was worn around the neck, although it could easily be carried in the pocket.  The item is tentatively dated from c. 1750 to 1950.




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