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Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:19 pm
by Alan E
Possibly ...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-la ... e-16066680

Interesting and tinely discovery. I'd love to know how the place became buried (was it deliberate?). Does anyone know more about this?

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:31 pm
by Lady Cecily
I don't know for certain but as it's United Utilities who own the land it's likely to be in a water catchment area for a reservoir - there are a lot of abandoned farms and villages in the Pennines that fall into that category.

And now I've actually read the article it says it's part of a reservoir project. Doh!

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:37 pm
by Grania
The house sounds fascinating...but a cat identifying it as a witch's house? Not sure about that - a mummified cat in your house WAS a good luck charm of sorts as far as I remember, I worked for quite a while in an Elizabethan merchant's house that had a mummified cat in the roof, but no one ever suggested witchcraft :|

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:15 pm
by Lady Cecily
The two families that started all of the mania would probably considered to be chavs these days - they begged for a living and cursed people who didn't pay. The held a party on Good Friday and probably didn't go to church much. The history is interesting and no-doubt romanticised by the word witch but something like sixteen people were executed. I blame James I and his hysterical obsession with witches.

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:39 pm
by Merlon.
Its not the first building found with bricked up animal remains in the UK
Probably got over grown when abandoned rather than deliberately buried
As the article states "The building also contains a 19th Century kitchen range, still in its original position." So still in use a long time after the time of the Pendle witches

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:48 pm
by Lady Cecily
Oh there is every chance it was abandoned in the 19th or early 20th century when large areas were cleared for reservoir projects. My Dad and his family were evicted from somewhere similar in the 1930's.

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:06 am
by Attilla the Bun
Cats hidden in buildings are not uncommon.
http://www.apotropaios.co.uk/dried_cats.htm
Years ago, I've freeze-dried the remains of a cat from a cottage in Wales for the museum, (was pretty dry already, as I remember it!) and I remember a horse skull as well from under the floor of a house in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Cats, horse skulls, shoes, bells, coins, other stuff.

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:50 pm
by Tom H
Agree, these dried cats are not rare, and more likely to be intended to keep "witches" away. The term witch is a bit too loaded with its modern meanings to be much use. I suspect it is the usual press slant on the find rather than what historians or archaeologists really think, especially with the Lancashire Witches 400 year anniversary coming up.

Although it was fairly common in the 17th century the practice of walling up or burying live cats sadly continued to be used as a protective device in some areas until at least the late 19th century. At Blackden in Cheshire a hearthstone was laid over a live cat in the 1880s. When it was uncovered in the late 20th century the owners of the house wanted it gotten rid of. Luckily the cat's remains were saved and are now in the care of the Blackden Trust, based in the Old Medicine House not too far from the cat's original "home". The Old Medicine House itself has lots of protective devices, hidden shoes and other personal objects, loads of apotropaic markings, "witch bottles" etc. I have to declare an interest as a keen volunteer at Blackden and have run courses on the protection of the home there, may be running another one in March 2012 if there is enough interest. You can find a report and details of some of the objects in the diary section of their website http://www.theblackdentrust.org.uk

Sorry for slipping into advertising mode!

Re: Mummified cat identifies witches cottage?

Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:50 pm
by SirUlf
A friend of ours found loads of stuff in his walls; shoes, musket balls, bits of a musket itself, and so on. And my wife knows someone who found a priest hole, with the priest still in it! :o