‘Witch bottle’ found in American Civil War fort

‘Witch bottle’ found in American Civil War fort

A glass bottle which is filled with rusted nails, discovered in Virginia, is thought to be a talisman used by soldiers in the American Civil War to fend off evil spirits.

The bottle is five inches tall and three inches wide and was discovered at a civil war-era fort known as ReDoubt 9.

This fortification was built in 1861 and was originally used by Confederate soldiers but was later occupied by Union soldiers.

The bottle was discovered buried near a hearth by archaeologists from the William & Mary Centre for Archaeological Research (WMCAR), where they believe it was placed by a Union soldier.

When the bottle was first found, the researchers thought that the bottle was simply used to store nails. However, due to its position near a hearth, the evidence suggested that it served a ritualistic purpose.

In a statement, WMCAR Director Joe Jones explained that:

“There were a lot of casualties and fear during this period.

“The Union troops were an occupying force in enemy territory throughout most of the war, so there were plenty of bad spirits and energy to ward off.”

This tradition of ‘witch bottles’ began in East Anglia, England, in the 16th and 17th Centuries. If someone thought that they were cursed, then they would fill a glass container with bent nails, bury it under or near a hearth and the heat from the hearth would animate the iron nails and force the witch to break the curse.

Jones noted that the find is “a time capsule representing the experience of Civil War troops, a window directly back into what these guys were going through occupying this fortification at this period in time”.

We offer a variety of tours based around the American Civil War, find out more here

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Added: 28th January 2020

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