Brian Hoggard. Magical House Protection, the Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft. Berghahn, 2019.

I learnt a new word reading this book: apotropaic, which is defined as “having the ability to ward off evil”, from the Greek αποτρέπειν, to ward off; from απο- ‘away’ and τρέπειν ‘to turn’) This is the term used to describe objects, signs and other indicators that are left in houses, stables and other buildings to ward off malignant spells and curses that may be placed upon then by malevolent agencies.
The book divides into two parts, the first half being a description and historical analysis of objects and symbols concealed during the construction of houses and afterwards, and which have subsequently been revealed. The second half is a county by county listing of such finds which have been preserved or recorded. The second part will be of importance to academics, but is probably of less interest to the general reader, and may be partly responsible for the extremely high price of this book.


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