UK Wants Help Finding 'Witches' Marks'

Medieval signs were meant to ward off evil spirits
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2016 4:45 PM CDT

This Halloween, you can don your sexy witch costume or you can go off in search of actual witches—or at least so-called witches' signs, and a historic group in England, which is apparently littered with them, is hoping its citizenry will choose the latter. As the BBC reports, Historic England is this year imploring members of the public to assist it in mapping apotropaic marks—markings that were routinely carved into buildings to ward off evil spirits during Medieval times—such as those already known to be carved into the Tower of London, as well as the house where William Shakespeare was born. The signs vary widely, and can take the form of a "Daisy Wheel," or feature letters like AM for Ave Maria, M for Mary or VV, for Virgin of Virgins.

"Witches' marks are a physical reminder of how our ancestors saw the world," says the chief executive of Historic England. "Ritual marks were cut, scratched or carved into our ancestors' homes and churches in the hope of making the world a safer, less hostile place. They were such a common part of everyday life that they were unremarkable and because they are easy to overlook, the recorded evidence we hold about where they appear and what form they take is thin." Spot one? Let Historic England know. (More witches stories.)

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