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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Witch Bottle found at Hoath.
by H E Gough.

A Bellarmine jug of the type described and illustrated by J E Caiger in KAR February 1967, pages 8-12, was found on December 17, 1968 at Hoath Cottage, Hoath, near Herne Bay (NGR 20406497), during work to replace the hearth in an open brick fireplace. The cottage includes part of a medieval building with later additions and it was under one of the two hearths in the earlier portion that the jug was found. It lay under a deposit of rubble forming the bottom of the hearth, and was inverted; a coating of gravelly clay covered much of its surface. The jug, which is 9 inches tall, was undamaged apart from a slight chipping of the mask and its glaze was poor, particularly below the bulge; as this had been uppermost this may well have suffered from heat. Examination of similar jugs shows that the lower part sometimes had a thinner or perhaps single coat of glaze compared with the upper area, so that a clear distinction appears exactly where the glaze is absent on the Hoath specimen. The rosette has become a flower with 8 petals resembling mussel shells.

Mr Caiger's reference to the use of these jugs as "witch bottles" is confirmed by the contents -- numerous rusty iron fragments and some pins; there was also a piece of coiled metal strip, perhaps a personal possession of the "victim." In the 17th century, the cottage is known to have belonged to the Knowler family of Maypole House, nearby, but the names of their tenants at that date and hence possible "victims" are unfortunately not known.

Thanks are due to Mr and Mrs M Webb of Hoath Cottage for prompt news of the finding of this jug and affording the writer the chance to examine it.

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