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'Witch marks' found in 17th-century English home

'Witch marks' found in 17th-century English home

Archaeologists have uncovered some unusual carvings on the floorboards of Knole, a historic home in Kent, England.

These so-called "witch marks" were meant to protect the house's members from demonic possession. The Guardian notes that the markings date to a time when England was overcome with superstitious paranoia, thanks to the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The plot, led by Guy Fawkes, included plans to assassinate King James I of England.

The archaeologists used dendrochronology to date the witch marks to 1606, which was when James I, who was notoriously afraid of (and obsessed with) witchcraft, was in power. The carvings, which include lines and symbols, were discovered by accident when the Museum of London Archaeology performed restoration work on the home. --Meghan DeMaria