Friday 14 March 2008

Archaeologists find evidence of witchcraft

A story published on Timesonline earlier this week caught my eye this morning.

Archaeologists claim to have found evidence of 17th century pagan rituals near Truro, in Cornwall.

Since 2003, they have excavated 35 pits that were found to contain swan pelts, magpie corpses, unhatched eggs, quartz stones, human hair, fingernails and a piece of an iron cauldron. These finds date to the 1640s, when witchcraft was punishable by death.

Jacqui Woods, who is leading the archaeological team, suggested that the site might hold the remains of pagan fertility rituals carried out over many years.

She said: “A lot of the paganism of the Celts was wiped out by the Romans, but not in Cornwall."

People leaving comments on the Timesonline feature pointed out that many so-called witches of the 17th century would have thought of themselves as Christian rather than pagan and that evidence of folk traditions do not prove the survival of pre-Christian paganism.

What do you think?

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