The Witch Pits – Fertility Rituals

Strange, but interesting findings. Archaeologists have found a dozen shallow rectangular holes near the hamlet of Saveock, which is near Truro – Cornwall, UK. It seems these particular holes were made by a secret coven of Cornish witches; a group formed in the mid XVII century (1640s to be more precise). Archaeologists dug pits lined with animal skins, bird carcasses and feathers. These archaeological findings go as recently as the 1970s. Such findings seemed to have been part of a fertility ritual, as it was revealed by the archaeologists.

The more recent hole dug with still fresh archaeological deposits, contained animals bones wrapped in a synthetic twine only used in Cornwall since the late 1970s, which indicates that the people who made it (and made such rituals) are likely to still be alive.

The earliest “witch pit” dates back to the 1640s and is lined with a slaughtered swan turned inside-out, claws from other birds and a small pile of stones were also a part of the finding. This particular finding in this specific pit is quite interesting, even though being a bit grotesque. It so happens that in ancient folklore shared by many European cultures, the swan was a symbol of fertility and new life. This may indicate that the rituals held were linked to fertility, and quite possible to help the people who did this, or close relatives, to get pregnant. It is believed that the items found in such pits may have been offerings to St Brigid of Kildare in Ireland, which is the patron saint of newborn babies.

Other pits were lined with the skins of animals like cats and dogs, and many have large numbers of birds’ eggs buried as the chicks were about to hatch. Quite remarkably are the piles of pebbles often found in such pits, and these small and round stones can only be found at swanpool beach, which is near Falmouth, 15 miles or so away from these archaeological findings.

Every pit is very different but also remarkably similar. The items involved are always fur and feather, as well as birds’ eggs in most cases with this peculiarity – the chicks in every egg were ready to be born, so it wasn’t just any egg picked at random. Some pits also contained bones and the heads of goats and/or pigs.


One response to “The Witch Pits – Fertility Rituals

  1. Tanto que deve ainda estar por descobrir por esse Mundo fora! Pena que sao poucos os que se interessam pelo passado para melhor construir o futuro e entender as origens e o que nos trouxerem, e como evoluimos. O trabalho arquelogico revela a essência e os pormenores da história tornando-a mais factual e explicativa, o Arqueólogo tem a importante missão de nos aproximar de nós mesmos e do Mundo. O que aqui deixas registado enriquece o nosso conhecimento, ficamos mais cultos, menos hignorantes Obrigada!

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