We’re carrying on with our spooky Halloween theme for Curiosity of the Week, by taking a look at Apotropaic Marks.
You may well be thinking, what the heck are Apotropaic Marks? If you haven’t heard of these curious marks, often known as Witch Marks, then read on because we’ve got a fascinating quirky Halloween treat for you.
What is a Witch Mark?
So, what is an Apotropaic or Witch Mark? Well, the word Apotropaic comes from the Greek word for averting or turning away evil. This should give you a clue to what these marks are.
Back when witchcraft was seen as a real threat to households, and superstitions and rituals were commonplace, these marks were made as a form of protection. The marks were made by carving symbols near the openings in a house to stop evil getting in. So, windows, doors and fireplaces are good places to spot these unusual marks. Even barns and stables are known to have marks inscribed around the doorways. Witch Marks can also be found on gravestones and in caves.
How to find these curious engravings
What do these marks look like and where can you spot them? Compass drawn designs and pentangles, drawn in the form of an endless line, are the most common forms of Witch Mark. Demons were thought to be attracted to lines, so the idea of the mark was to dupe the evil spirits into eternally following an endless line pattern.
These unusual marks are easy to miss, but can still be found in old houses across the country. The daisy wheel or hexafoil design is one of the more distinctive marks that you may be able to spot the next time you’re visiting a historic house.
It may be a while before you can go hunting around our historic treasures for these spooky marks. But once it’s safe to do so, there are plenty of places around the country where you can find these quirky marks.
Finding a Witch Mark
One place you may be able to spot a daisy wheel Witch Mark is at the National Trust’s Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire. Where else can you spot these Witch Marks? Lincolnshire’s Woolsthorpe Manor and the 15th Century Tithe Barn in Bradford-on-Avon also have examples of Witch Marks.
If you want to learn more about some of the creepy curios looked after by the National Trust, then do check out their fascinating page dedicated to all things macabre.
We are always on the lookout for interesting customs, hidden places, and unique buildings and landmarks, to share with our readers. If you have an idea for Curiosity of the Week then please do get in touch, we welcome suggestions from everyone. You can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message via Facebook.