Witches in England

    In Lancashire England, while digging in a construction site workman unearthed
    a seventeenth century cottage believed to be linked to 17th century Pendle
    witches who had been practicing in the area. The Pendle witches tried there in
    1612 and found guilty of practicing witchcraft.

    Some believe the discovered ruins which are pictured below are the famous
    Malkin Tower where the Pendle witches practiced their beliefs before being

    Mummified cats, long associated with practicing witches were found in
    the walls of the cottage above.

    Even the King of England Became Involved In A Witch's Punishment
    King James I of England had a fascination with witchcraft that bordered on
    obsession. It was James, in his 1597 book called Daemonology, who first
    recommended dropping accused witches into water.

    If the accused sank into the water, James believed, she was absolved of the
    crime of witchcraft (but most likely would die of drowning) but if she floated,
    she would be considered a proven witch and put to death.

    It was in this climate of hysteria and persecution that nine members of two
    rival peasant families were accused and hanged for witchcraft in 1612. Pendle
    Hill, where the families lived, overlooks the small villages in Lancashire's
    Ribble Valley that played a part in this fascinating historical tale.

    Today, if you travel to England, you can follow the trail of the Pendle Witches
    through the beautiful countryside of Lancashire. A 45-mile trail can be
    followed by car or bike, and provides many places of interest to stop at along
    the way.

    Nine Million Witches Hanged
    Nonetheless, in England's history nine million witches had been hanged, or at
    least they were convicted and sentenced in the name of witchcraft. Many
    were victims who were representatives of an ancient fertility religion, or a

    The total number of executions for practicing witchcraft in Europe as a whole
    probably numbered less than one per cent of this figure and in England witches
    were hanged not burned. Moreover, there is no convincing evidence to link
    those executed with any kind of organised non-Christian cult, but were merely
    people who became fascinated with the lore of the witch.

    English Courts Banned the Prosecution of Witchcraft Yet It Continued
    In 1736, the English Courts repealed the Witchcraft Act against witchcraft
    Which stated that:
    "No Prosecution, Suit, or Proceeding, shall be commenced or carried on
    against any Person or Persons for Witchcraft, Sorcery, Inchantment, or

    At least the idea of witchcraft which had threatened or killed hundreds of
    people for their beliefs was over. The churches in England, notably the
    Methodists and Scottish Presbyterians continued to rail against witchcraft
    and especially Satanism which they thought were similar.

    Many of the middle and upper classes in England during the 17th and 18th
    century had merely convinced themselves that witchcraft no longer existed.
    However, many of the rural poor, whose lively-hood depended on the health of
    their farm animals and could not afford medical care for their families,
    secretly went to witches who actually did give their clients curative herbs
    collected in the forests to go along with their rituals.

    If a major illness or disease condition occurred in a poor families' children, or
    a valued pig or cow,  could cause much anguish hardship for poor rural families.
    Its understandable that they would secretly and against their own religious
    beliefs resort to witchcraft for a cure. Witchcraft was in hiding up to the end
    of 19th century England.

    Nonetheless, if food became scarce and crops failed witchcraft would be
    blamed. This blame historically was laid at the doorstep of their neighbors,
    where begging, borrowing, trespassing and gossip caused continued friction
    between the closet English rural poor.

    Courts and judges were inclined to dismiss accusations of witchcraft after
    the 18th century laws prohibiting prosecution of witches.
    Kars, A. C. Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History. 2000.

    Murray, M. A. Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology. 2012.

    Levack, B. P. Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe. 2006.
Early Relic
of English