Spiritual Middens: Foundation Deposit, Spirit Trap or Counter Witchcraft Measure?

Spiritual Middens: Foundation Deposit, Spirit Trap or Counter Witchcraft Measure?Archaeologists regularly discover large collections or ‘caches’ of clothing deliberately concealed within the fabric of 16th & 17th century buildings. Often, these objects have been hidden in the voids around the chimney stack, in the ‘dead’ space between ceilings and floors and even within the walls themselves.Much of the clothing is heavily worn, soiled and patched, showing numerous repairs whilst many of the objects have been deliberately broken or ritually ‘killed.’Such a collection of items – often referred to as a ‘cache’ of concealed clothes or a ‘spiritual midden’ –was discovered during the demolition of the Old Plough in Sittingbourne by two members of the Sittingbourne Museum team. Over 500 items were discovered, including old & patched clothing, tools and children’s toysWhat do they constitute? Foundation deposits? Acts of sympathetic Magic? Apotropaic evil-averting agents? Were they considered to possess a ‘protective function’ against incoming malevolent forces? Were they created to counter the threat of maleficium or the witch’s familiar?


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