8.10.09

WARD OFF

The biggest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever was
discovered in field in Staffordshire in July
and now archaeologists digging up a car
park in Stafford have unearthed a 400 year
old bottle used to scare off witches.

It was discovered in a pit beneath a back room
on the site of the Turk's Head Inn at
Tipping Street car park.

The vessel (above) is a mid to late 17th-century
Bellarmine jug which would have been filled with
things like nail clippings, hair, bellybutton
fluff, pins and iron nails.


Oxford Archaeology which is undertaking
the dig will analyse the contents of the
bottle to see what it contains.


Project manager Andrew Norton, said: "This is a very
interesting find. People were very superstitious during
this period and would put items which came from
themselves such as hair into a bottle to protect them
from witches and evil spirits. This would then be
buried at the front or back door of a building or
placed in a chimney to ward off
witches or evil spirits. "


The dig has so far also unearthed some Anglo Saxon
pottery kilns suggesting Stafford could have been
a major pottery production area. Leather waste
from shoe making has been recovered from a
large pit as well and shows a cobbler would
have worked in residence at 14 or 15
Tipping Street during the
medieval period.

Stafford was originally a fortified Saxon settlement
founded in 913AD by Queen Aethelflaed (the Lady
of the Mercians) (above). It was probably located
close to the River Sow and surrounded by
extensive marshland as this offered good
natural defences, control of any river
crossing and easy access to water.


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