Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft

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Magical House Protection

The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft

Brian Hoggard

336 pages, 25 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-205-2 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (April 2019)

ISBN  978-1-80073-021-2 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (January 2021)

eISBN 978-1-78920-206-9 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“…a fascinating read for anyone interested in how fear of witchcraft and other dark forces have influenced the behaviour of people and therefore the archaeological record. Since it is not heavy on theoretical consideration, readers looking for accessible information on these aspects of past life can appreciate it. Those with a more academic interest will especially find the extensive material and finds catalogue useful. The book works well as a reference work for the subject, particularly for the UK and an excellent starting point when considering the rest of the world.” •Fennoscandia Archaeologica

“Hoggard’s work will hopefully act as a springboard for exciting future readings of concealed objects situated within the history of belief and magic.” • Darkartsjournal

“A solidly researched synthesis of the archaeological information to date…This book is the result of a huge amount of careful research and the compilation of an awe-inspiring volume of information and deserves to find a place as one of the standard readers for students of apotropaic folk practices in the UK and beyond.” • Raking Light

“Diving into Brian Hoggard’s Magical House Protection is a remarkable experience… [It] provides an immersive and fascinating read.” • Fortean Times

Magical House Protection is thus an excellent resource as well as an addition to debate, and so can be used as a launch-pad for work to extend knowledge of the subject.” • Folklore

“The cumulation of twenty years’ worth of research, Magical House Protection will bring increased attention a subject that—despite its great importance for understanding vernacular belief and practice in early modern and modern Britain—has often been overlooked. Its catalogue will be of great use for researchers exploring this topic in future, and for this contribution in particular it should be recommended.” • Reading Religion


Belief in magic and particularly the power of witchcraft was once a deep and enduring presence in popular culture.

“Diving into Brian Hoggard’s Magical House Protection is a remarkable experience… [It] provides an immersive and fascinating read.”—Fortean Times

People created and concealed many objects to protect themselves from harmful magic. Detailed are the principal forms of magical house protection in Britain and beyond from the fourteenth century to the present day. Witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, written charms, protection marks and concealed shoes were all used widely as methods of repelling, diverting or trapping negative energies. Many of these practices and symbols can be found around the globe, demonstrating the universal nature of efforts by people to protect themselves from witchcraft.

From the introduction:
The most popular locations to conceal objects within buildings are usually at portals such as the hearth, the threshold and also voids or dead spaces. This suggests that people believed it was possible for dark forces to travel through the landscape and attack them in their homes. Whether these forces were emanations from a witch in the form of a spell, a witch’s familiar pestering their property, an actual witch flying in spirit or a combination of all of those is difficult to tell. Additional sources of danger could be ghosts, fairies and demons. People went to great lengths to ensure their homes and property were protected, highlighting the fact that these beliefs and fears were visceral and, as far as they were concerned, literally terrifying.

Brian Hoggard is an independent researcher who has been studying the archaeology of magical house protection for many years. He has a popular website at through which he receives reports and requests for advice about these objects from all over the world.

Subject: ArchaeologyHistory (General)Anthropology of Religion


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