Thanks very much to those who sent me details of a 17th-century witch bottle found in London, which scientist have scrutinised to analyse the contents.
Witch bottles were once used all over Europe as wards against curses. They were usually buried in homes, or just outside the front door, often upside down. Years of people walking over them means most of those dug up are cracked and the contents spilled.
However, one that was found in Greenwich in 2004 was still sealed with an intact cork and held its original contents.
Scientists examining it using X-Rays and tomography scans found it contained human urine, bent nails, pins, a nail-pierced leather "heart", fingernail clippings, navel fluff, hair, sulphur or brimstone. These ingredients tie in with old recipes for witch bottles that are known to have been used for protective magic in a century when witches were feared and persecuted.
Like many witch bottles of the era, the Greenwich bottle is a salt-glazed jar manufactured in the Netherlands or Germany and decorated with the face of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, a famously-fierce Catholic cardinal who lived between 1542 and 1621.
The picture above is one I took myself of a witch bottle discovered at Michelham Priory, in East Sussex. I wrote about this almost a year ago in a blog entry called Witch bottles and protection magic.