Off topic a bit, but these ancient rituals continued far longer than we realise! I did some research into witch bottles a few years ago and my father, who is in his late eighties, remembers hearing people whispering about these when he was a child. At the time I was doing the project I discovered that witch bottles and associated traditions had been transported to Australia and discovered in old houses in Sydney.
There are examples in England of mummified cats etc. found bricked up in chimneys of old houses in England (see Ralph Merrifield 'The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic'....and even chickens...one example where the chicken had laid an egg after being bricked up in the chimney! There is also a tradition of burying an old boot under the hearth or putting it up the chimney .......and I wouldn't be at all surprised if that tradition isn't still being practiced in rural areas of Britain.
Sorry....a bit off topic....but interesting!
From: Ian Evans <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, 5 August 2013, 4:28
Subject: [BRITARCH] Foundation sacrifice
This is to ask if any of you have encountered examples of the foundation
sacrifice of animals.
I ask because I have been informed very reliably of the presence of the
bones of a cat beneath the stone front wall of an 1850 cottage in country
The find may be related to the building trade practice of concealing cats,
garments and shoes in voids within houses and other buildings. But it
differs in that this animal was placed in the trench before the foundation
stones were laid.
I think it is remarkable that such an ancient ritual survived until 1850
and that it travelled around the world to provide protection to the
occupants of a small house in the country.
I’m not yet aware of other examples of such sacrifices in Australia but
would be very interested to hear if similar finds have been made in the UK.
Ian Evans, OAM, PhD
The Flannel Flower Press & World of Old Houses (www.oldhouses.com.au)
PO Box 591
Mullumbimby, NSW, Australia 2482
Phone/fax 02 6684 7677 (+612 6684 7677)