witch posts


witch posts
   In North Yorkshire farmhouses of the 17th and 18th centuries, hearths were screened by partitions ending in posts of *rowan wood carved with X-shaped patterns, called 'witch posts'. Lancashire farms had similar rowan posts, but without the decoration. Belief in their protective power continued into the 1920s, when Yorkshire builders made new ones when old houses were being rebuilt. A modern stonemason explained:
   The witch, in order to gain power over a dwelling house, must go through the house and past the hearth. The door and chimney were the only means of access, but she could not pass the witch post with its cross. Hence it was a defence at the hearth . . . a crooked sixpence was kept in a hole at the centre of the post. When the butter would not turn you took a knitting needle, which was kept for the purpose in a groove at the top, and with it got out the sixpence and put it in the churn. (Brears, 1989: 31)

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Salem witch trials — Salem Witches redirects here. For the minor league baseball team, see Salem Witches (NEL). The central figure in this 1876 illustration of the courtroom is usually identifie …   Wikipedia

  • houses —    The most substantial body of folk practice and belief concerning houses focuses on protecting them from witchcraft, evil spirits, fire, thunder, and lightning; this involved placing protective objects, generally near a point of possible entry… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • rowan —    Also known as mountain ash, wittern, whitty, wiggen, and quickbeam, rowan was the tree most often credited with protective magical powers against all effects of *witch craft, not merely in Celtic areas but throughout Britain (Opie and Tatem,… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • cross —    The many ways in which material representations of the cross, and the gesture of prayer and blessing called the Sign of the Cross, are used in official religious rituals need not be listed here. At the level of folk custom and belief, the… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Europe, history of — Introduction       history of European peoples and cultures from prehistoric times to the present. Europe is a more ambiguous term than most geographic expressions. Its etymology is doubtful, as is the physical extent of the area it designates.… …   Universalium

  • performing arts — arts or skills that require public performance, as acting, singing, or dancing. [1945 50] * * * ▪ 2009 Introduction Music Classical.       The last vestiges of the Cold War seemed to thaw for a moment on Feb. 26, 2008, when the unfamiliar strains …   Universalium

  • 2010 in heavy metal music — 2010 in music By location Canada – Europe – Great Britain – Ireland – Sweden – Japan – New Zealand – United States By genre Alternative, country, electropop, heavy metal, hip hop, opera By topic List of albums… …   Wikipedia

  • Anthropology and Archaeology — ▪ 2009 Introduction Anthropology       Among the key developments in 2008 in the field of physical anthropology was the discovery by a large interdisciplinary team of Spanish and American scientists in northern Spain of a partial mandible (lower… …   Universalium

  • Sweep (book series) — Sweep   Author(s) Cate Tiernan Country USA …   Wikipedia

  • Spain — /spayn/, n. a kingdom in SW Europe. Including the Balearic and Canary islands, 39,244,195; 194,988 sq. mi. (505,019 sq. km). Cap.: Madrid. Spanish, España. * * * Spain Introduction Spain Background: Spain s powerful world empire of the 16th and… …   Universalium