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Witch Marks in Holy Places

Witch marks inside a baptismal font? Yes, definitely, here at Lower Quinton in Warwickshire.

Ritual protection markings, or "witch marks" as they are more commonly known, can be found etched into all sorts of buildings across the length and breadth of Britain. Older churches are probably the best places to hunt for them where doorways seem to be where they accumulate the most.

The "VV" symbol, or "Marian Mark" is one of the most common forms of etching along with the hexafoil or "daisy wheel". Opinion is still divided on the meaning or function of these markings, with one of the main conclusions arising from research into them being that each case must be regarded on its own merit and within its own context.

Protection from witchcraft was one meaning behind some of them, while others represented defence against evil or bad luck in general. However, a large proportion of these marks in churches were etched in a ritual manner, accompanied by a prayer or invocation of some sort, to gain blessings or protection specific to the person making the mark.

So here we see a set of hexafoils etched into the lead lining of a baptismal font. Belief in witchcraft and the devil as a physical manifestation was strong in this area of Warwickshire, from the Civil War era right up to the end of the Second World War. Lower Quinton was where Charles Walton, a quiet and reserved 74 year old man, was found savagely murdered in what appeared to be a ritual killing in 1945. There was a lot more to the case than this but evidence does indicate that Walton was a cunning man of some sort while an elderly woman was "scratched" to death by a man who believed she had bewitched him less than a century earlier in the nearby village of Long Compton.

The holy water used in baptisms was often taken from fonts to use in cunning work, leading to their lids being firmly locked and which may explain these markings at Lower Quinton. There are several of them overlapping each other which might have been intended to trap a witch if she tried to enchant the font remotely, his or her spirit or familiar snared within the hexafoils.

If this subject interests you then my book The Magic Of Mercia might be up your street. A timeline of witchcraft and magic in the Midlands area and examinations of the lives and deeds of some of its practitioners.

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