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The most complete “witch bottle” in the world: it’s in Greenwich!

The magic bottle was found during construction work on Church Street, Greenwich in 2004, and you can find it on display in the Visitor Centre at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Greenwich London Witches Bottle
© Wonders of London

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the practice of witchcraft was widespread, and bottles like this were used as amulets against witches, to attract and trap negative energy.

Inside the bottle were found human urine, 10 pieces of nail, hair, navel hair, a heart-shaped piece of skin pierced by a bent nail, 12 iron nails, 8 brass pins, and sulphur.

Brimstone was perhaps the most powerful deterrent a witch could encounter. According to the Bible, false prophets and those possessed by the devil were ‘thrown alive into a fiery lake burning with sulphur’.



Greenwich London Witches Bottle
© Wonders of London

Furthermore, an Old Bailey court document of 1682 says that a gentleman, believing that his wife was afflicted with witchcraft, was advised by a Spitalfields apothecary to take a quart of his wife’s urine, cut her nails, some of her hair, and cook it in a pipkin, an earthenware pot much like the Greenwich bottle.
 
In fact, at that time, there was a very strong and genuine fear of witches, and it was believed that the bottle reflected the curse on the witch, for example inflicting excruciating pain when she urinated.

If you’re curious you can watch the video of the witch bottle on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin!


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