back to article Boffins boil down witch-repelling brew

A raft of modern scientific tests has revealed the contents of the first "witch bottle" discovered with its cork intact - a late 17th-century vessel buried by the owner's front door and designed to thwart the evil intentions of ill-wishers. According to the Times, the salt-glazed stoneware bottle was unearthed in Greenwich. It …


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  1. Pete Randall

    Someone chuck it at Wacky Jacqui...

    nuff said

    mine's the one with the spell book in the pocket

  2. Anonymous Coward


    I suspect there will be a lot of pints of piss buried in and around Redditch, once el Jacqui gets banished back there...

    "I'll get you my preeeeettttiiiiieeeesssss"

    Now, if only we can get something done about the surge in flying monkeys...

    I think we need a Witch-finder General icon...

  3. Andrew Moore

    The IT Angle...

    does it work on Windows Vista???

  4. Ian Chard


    the secret of Boddingtons is revealed.

  5. NB

    in Jacqui's case

    that should surely be Bitch-Finder General?

    mine's the one with Richard Whitelys skull in the pocket...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We've come a long way since then...

    Now we put our faith in firewalls and antivirus software to stop evil coming our way.

  7. Luis Ogando


    My history's not perfect, but I'm sure there was massive drop in broomsticks towards the end of the 17th Century.

    Can't all be coincidence....

  8. Wun Hung Lo

    No title required

    I think someone's taking the piss.

    No coat needed, it's turning warmer.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Or you can just probe into their expenses.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Getting on it!

    As someone who lives in Redditch, I will be getting onto the job of preparing this mixture without delay!

  11. spam

    Doesn't anyone see the irony here?

    you have to practise witchcraft in order to repel witches?

  12. Stuart Manners

    Over 12 months???

    Over 12 months to get an X-ray, CT scan and a sample taken??? .....that's the NHS for you

  13. Rabbi

    Witchfinder General's Security Advisory

    We have reports of active attacks against WG witch bottles. They are being stolen by practitioners of Voodoo and the hair and fingernails contained therein are being used in directed Voodoo attacks.

    There is currently no patch available for this issue. As a workaround, users are advised to bury their witch bottles as deeply as possible.

  14. /dev/me

    The problem with boffins...

    >> "It is possible that we could one day identify him from DNA analysis (...)”

    ...they should ask: "do we want to know?", the obvious answer being in this case: 'No, we don't want to know'.

    I mean, yes I can see some geekish challenge in identifying some long dead anonymous toenail clippings donator or whatever. But really, for the sake of the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of science can't we agree that if it was deemed necessary for us to know the True Identity of the person or persons involved that they should have clearly marked the bottle accordingly?

    Why, I don't think we will loose much if the nail clippings get labeled '17th century Anonymous Coward' and filed somewhere deep down in the back of a remotely located museum archive or even better, a plain public landfill. Please, in the name of sanity, do not research this further.

    But I bet they can tie this with Global Warming in some sense or the other, and get a government grand worthy to write home about.

  15. WhatWasThat?

    RE: Luis Ogando

    As a matter of history, there was a mass broomstick falling in Massachusetts in 1710... It was originally thought to be the result of a tornado taking out a broomstick factory nearby, but NOW THE TRUTH IS REVEALED!

  16. Stevie


    These days we laugh at such superstitions, and have only scientifically provable folk-wisdom like "Java is better" and "OpenOffice doesn't give you cancer and Microsoft Office does, maybe".

  17. Anonymous Coward

    This is a relic of early modern Britain.

    Maybe he really meant to say "late medaeval Britain".

    Anyway, once that DNA is on file, the coppers will be sure to get their man if he shows up.

  18. joshimitsu
    IT Angle


    done by CCTV and massive databases these days...

  19. Sleeping Dragon

    How Times Change

    Being of Pagan beliefs myself, it's nice to follow these little stories into how our country and it's history have been coloured by such interesting traditions.

    But things change over time - nowadays we witches and the suchlike tend to cast off evil spirits and curses with a bloody large stick with a nail in it until said nastiness is very, very sorry indeed.

    Personally, if I wanted to piss into a bottle and clog it up with nasal hair or whatever the hell it was, I'd join a Masonic lodge, they love that sort of thing.

    From the tech. point of view, they should really leave the DNA alone. Nobody is going to be interested, it's not going to provide any further insight into why the bottle was made, and if some budding genealogist/geneticist traced the family line, that family might not appreciate having witchcraft woven into their family tree, TYVM. It's funny, some people can get a bit upset about that sort of thing.

  20. OffBeatMammal
    Thumb Up

    replace the TSA / Border controls

    sounds like it would be as effective as the current security measures at airports... lets replace the TSA with bottles of...

  21. Eddy Ito

    Total B.S.

    So let me get this straight. Some poor sod hundreds of years ago trims his hair and clips his nails over a jar, so as to not make a mess of the floor before a night out. He happens to have previously put some miscellaneous fasteners into the jar for later use but doesn't bother to sort it out at the moment as he's in a bit of a hurry to get down to the business of getting down to business at the pub.

    Later that night after stumbling home and collapsing in bed, he discovers his bladder is in dire need of relief. Still a bit lit, he grabs the nearest container handy and proceeds to produce a brimmer which he places back on the sill and promptly passes back out. In the morning, being a bleary eyed gent, he discovers the contents of the jar and figures it best to hide it from his missus who is arriving that afternoon with her mother for a visit. In haste, he buries it beside the door under an azalea bush figuring she will never find it and if she does, he concocts some wild story about it repelling witches, meaning of course his mother-in-law.

    Fast forward a bit and some super jean-yus figures he has found the long fabled witch repellant which had previously been lost to time. Sad bit is it would have probably worked better if the original sod had kept a steady stupor the next day, left the jar, still full, on the sill where it was the next morning and let the old lady find it. Then she would have rushed her mother back out and probably ne'er be seen again. And that my friends would be known as a twofer, repelling two witches for the price of one.

  22. Walking Turtle

    For Sheer Historical Continuity...

    Right here in Old-Timey America, us Injuns took instant pity on the po' new-arrived laboring-class folk in their chains and helped 'em out where we could. Some of the results live on to this day. will set all visitors thereunto right straight per the Holye Historickal Hoodoo Explosion that ensued.

    Poor ol' Whiteman has been fighting a Secret Terrorwar against an Invisible Enema Within ever since. But flail and moan and clench-up tho' he might, it still goes off with a rumblin' "BUMP!" here and there in the night. Po' ol' Massa' Bwana STILL cain't sleep so good no mo'.

    Um, there's still some Afro/Celt folk on Earth, now ain't there? Sorted!

    Mine's the one with the Grumpy Green-Face Bottle in the pocket. And the nice fat High John nut; yes, thanks that's it. :)

  23. Dave Harris
    Thumb Up

    @Eddy Ito

    My hat, sir, is well and truly doffed.

  24. tony trolle

    Bit too OTT to me

    Whats wrong with small lumps of coal and copper pennys/nails.

    Not forgetting acorns hanging in windows.

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