Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Swan pits dig diary

You may remember the media frenzy that was caused when the weird swan feather deposits were discovered.

Mysterious pits shed light on forgotten witches of the West
Since 2003, 35 pits at the site in a valley near Truro have been excavated containing swan pelts, dead magpies, unhatched eggs, quartz pebbles, human hair, fingernails and part of an iron cauldron.
The Saveock swan pits excavation has an online diary where you can catch up with the latest finds. Unfortunately it's not a proper blog so there's no feed to subscribe to, no comments, and no facility to link to individual posts. Though you can link to individual photos.

Anyway the really interesting thing is that the practices associated with the pits appear to have been going on from about the 1740s to the 1950s, according to the carbon-dating results:
The next pit we got a date for was the cat pit and that was over a hundred years later 1740’s to 1780’s which we were really pleased with because it meant that this particular belief system had been going on for at least four generations. Then we looked at the date for the dog pit and were completely taken aback! The dog had been alive since the 1950’s!!! It showed what they call ‘Bomb Carbon’ which is as a result of the thermo-nuclear bomb testing in the 1950’s. So we have over 350 years of this practice of depositing various bits of birds and animals in either north south or east west aligned pits in our valley.
I guess this isn't that surprising when you consider that some of the weird stuff they have in the Witchcraft Museum at Boscastle dates from as recently as the 1930s and 1940s.

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