I’m back and bearing 17th c. navel lint!

I figured after all this time I couldn’t just show up empty handed, so I come bearing a blog-warming gift: a 17th century bottle filled with urine, hair and nails. Just what you wanted, amirite?

It was found buried upside down in Greenwich, and is the most complete known example of a “witch bottle”, a device meant to combat witchcraft.

Its contents match a recipe in a late 17th c. Old Bailey court document given from an apothecary to a husband concerned that his wife had gone witchy.

Other witch bottles have been found before, but they were uncorked and their contents degraded. This one is still fully intact and packed with anti-witchcraft goodies.

CT scans and chemical analysis, along with gas chromatography conducted by Richard Cole of the Leicester Royal Infirmary, reveal the contents of the bottle to include human urine, brimstone, 12 iron nails, eight brass pins, hair, possible navel fluff, a piece of heart-shaped leather pierced by a bent nail, and 10 fingernail clippings. […]

The urine contained nicotine, so a smoker produced it. Since the fingernails showed little wear, Massey believes the individual was “of some social standing.”

So you see you can’t say I never gave you nuthin’. Navel lint and fingernail clippings for all!


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Comment by David
2009-07-01 11:15:20

Welcome Back!

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-01 11:21:49

Thank you! Enjoy your navel lint. :giggle:

Comment by Dina
2009-07-01 11:37:00

At long last you return, O Livius Drusus! :D
Telepathy maybe; just a day or two ago I was thinking about you and really missing your witty discoveries. So glad you are back!
Hope all is well with you.
I’ll trade you your witch bottle for my almost 4,000 year old figurine with execration text (posted yesterday)?

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-01 12:17:17

All is well, thank you kindly. I was just catching up on your blog and reading about the figurine. I don’t know if we can trade though, ’cause mine has 17th c. smoker’s pee and you really just can’t put a value on that. :giggle:

Comment by Dina
2009-07-02 00:18:32

Eeuw. Back to your old self, I see. :giggle:

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-02 07:15:24


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Comment by Mary
2009-07-01 13:38:43

I am so glad that you are back! What a lovely surprise. :thanks:

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-01 14:24:11

Thank you for following, despite my fallow period. :hattip:

Comment by Clutch
2009-07-01 17:14:34

Ah, brilliant. I shall instruct the entire nation of Canada to hold parades and light up fireworks in celebration of your return!

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-01 17:34:33

Wow instant turnover on that promise. You have power even I could never conceive.

Comment by Anonymous
2009-07-01 19:29:27

Yay! :boogie: Welcome back Livius.

Comment by Mr Lemming
2009-07-01 19:29:52

^Mr Lemming

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-01 19:34:02

AnonyLemming! Thank you for missing me so much. :love:

Comment by Clutch
2009-07-02 07:15:56

Lead researcher Alan Massey, a former chemist and honorary fellow of Loughborough University, believes “the objects found in witch bottles verify the authenticity of contemporary recipes given for anti-witchcraft devices, which might otherwise have been dismissed by us as being too ridiculous and outrageous to believe.”

I love it. “So you thought there were some things too absurd for humans to believe, huh? Well, nuh-uh!”

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-02 08:21:44

See, now, I found it totally believable even without the find. Hell, if you look at cookbooks from that period, people were eating grosser shit than that.

Comment by Clutch
2009-07-02 08:34:22

Oh, yeah — like human flesh.

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-02 08:39:25

Or worse: blancmange. :skull:

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Comment by Erik
2009-07-02 09:49:30

My life was so boring without your news! Welcome back!

Greatings from a spanish reader! :notworthy:

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-02 09:51:07

I shall endeavor to be even more entertaining to make up for it, then. Hmm… Perhaps I should post about those Spanish pre-historic cannibals, then. :evil:

Comment by TomJoe
2009-07-02 11:31:22

Welcome back!

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-02 12:07:52

Mucho gusto. Thank you for not giving up. :love:

Comment by fragment
2009-07-02 19:33:13

WB, nice to see THB in my feedreader again.

I’m tempted to make and bury my own one of those… should be fun for future archaeologists!

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-02 19:39:32

Make sure to smoke something fun before you take a whiz in the bottle. :giggle:

Comment by Mary
2012-03-15 08:28:22

Fantastic post! How fascinating to actually see an intact witch bottle. I have read so much about them…

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