Hunt for witches' marks in Sussex

Historic England is asking members of the public to share information about '˜witches' marks' that can be found in many historical places in the UK.

Daisy-Wheels inscribed with a pair of compasses or dividers found in Saxon Tithe barn, Bradford-on-Avon. Picture: Historic England
Daisy-Wheels inscribed with a pair of compasses or dividers found in Saxon Tithe barn, Bradford-on-Avon. Picture: Historic England

Witches’ marks - ritual protection symbols or apotropaic marks - can be found carved into the fabric of many historic places, from medieval churches and houses, to barns, caves and even the Tower of London, but they have never been fully recorded.

This Halloween, Historic England is calling on the public to share photographs, information and knowledge of where they are to help create a record of England’s apotropaic marks.

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The marks date back to times when belief in witchcraft and the supernatural was widespread, according to Historic England.

Witch marks are present at a property in Tulleys Farm in Crawley, says owner Stuart Beare

Magical symbols and ritual objects were a common part of life from around the 16th to the early 19th century.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England said: “Witches’ marks are a physical reminder of how our ancestors saw the world. They really fire the imagination and can teach us about previously-held beliefs and common rituals. Ritual marks were cut, scratched or carved into our ancestors’ homes and churches in the hope of making the world a safer, less hostile place.

“They were such a common part of everyday life that they were unremarkable and because they are easy to overlook, the recorded evidence we hold about where they appear and what form they take is thin. We now need the public’s help to create a fuller record of them and better understand them.”

Marks believed to match this description are present at a private property in Tulleys Farm in Crawley, according to owner Stuart Beare.

The circular engravings appear on an oak beam above the fire place, Mr Beare.

Similar engravings were also discovered at Bodiam Castlein East Sussex in a separate study by the National Trust earlier this year.

Members of the public can share their information and pictures of marks on the Historic England website.

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