Our Historypin Collections

We’re experimenting with the online mapping platform Historypin to crowdsource the locations of, and information on, witchcraft memorials and, as part of our Concealed Revealed sub-project, concealed apotropaic and countermagical objects. We can’t do this without your help; find out more below, and get pinning!

Collection 1: Witchcraft Memorials

The Steilneset Memorial in Vardø, Norway. Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Although recent scholarly work has tended to downplay the scale and extent of executions for witchcraft in Britain, Europe, and North America – especially during the so-called ‘witch craze’ of the seventeenth century – periodic outbreaks of witch hunting across the world resulted in thousands of prosecutions between 1400 and 1800; combined recent estimates suggest that there were somewhere between 90,000 and 100,000 trials, of which it is estimated around half resulted in the death penalty.

Memorials to the deceased have subsequently appeared, from Scotland to Salem, ranging in complexity from simple stones and plaques to elaborate, artist-commissioned installations such as the Steilneset Memorial in Vardø, Norway (dedicated to the memory of 91 people tried and executed in Finnmark in the late seventeenth century). These are supplemented by other lieux de memoire such as burial sites, less formal but still invested with historical significance by local communities. Our Historypin collection is the first attempt to create and curate an interactive global catalogue of these extraordinary sites.

Explore the collection, and get pinning!

Collection 2: Concealed Objects

A concealed shoe from the eighteenth or nineteenth century, discovered in the chimney of a house in Ilkley (Yorkshire). The Concealed Revealed.

A hidden shoe up a chimney breast. A mummified cat in the roof space. A child’s cap in a wall cavity. A horse skull under the floorboards. These are just some of the concealed objects people have discovered when renovating their homes – undoubtedly quite surprising finds considering the odd nature of the objects, coupled with their unusual locations. It’s unlikely that these objects found their way into such places by chance; in most cases it seems quite obvious that they were deliberately concealed, many with apotropaic (or protective) intent. But when, by whom, and why?

Up until now, non-existent, patchy, or scattered data on discovered objects has so far hindered our attempts to understand the secret custom of concealment, or to gauge the extent of the phenomenon. To remedy this, as part of our Concealed Revealed sub-project, we’re mapping concealed objects globally on Historypin, combining historical literary sources with physical finds and – most importantly – with the testimonies of the finders of these objects. If you’ve ever found an object (from the mundane to the bizarre) in an unusual location in a building, whether deliberately concealed or accidentally lost, then it would be really helpful if you could add it to the growing collection.

Explore the collection, and get pinning!