Eerie Witches’ Marks Found Among Ruins of Medieval English Church

Eerie Witches’ Marks Found Among Ruins of Medieval English Church

This week, archaeologists conducting excavations at the abandoned church of St. Mary’s in Stoke Mandeville, England, discovered strange stone carvings and medieval graffiti suspected to be “witches’ marks,” or protective symbols designed to ward off evil spirits. …

Two stones found at St. Mary’s feature spoke-like lines radiating out from central holes—a design perhaps meant to entrap malicious spirits, dooming them to forever wander around an endless line or maze. Alternatively, the statement notes, the markings could be rudimentary sun dials, or scratch dials, used to signal when it was time for morning, midday and evening prayers. …

Witches’ marks, meanwhile, were often inscribed near the entrances of churches, houses, barns or caves. According to Historic England, researchers have previously spotted the ritualistic symbols on buildings dating from the early medieval period to the 19th century.

By Isis Davis-Marks, Smithsonian.com

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