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Archaeologists find evidence of 'magic' once used at the Tower of London

The infamous Tower of London, a symbol of a bloody and paranoid 200 years of English history, was ritually protected by "magic" thought to keep the devil at bay, according to new discoveries made by archaeologists surveying sections of the historic site. During the 16th and 17th centuries, around 80 people were executed in or around the Tower of London during the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Civil War, and ongoing witch hunts and religious upheaval that plagued the nation. In order to protect themselves in the fortress, it appears that at least some of the inhabitants of the Tower would burn marks into the support structures of the building, meant to confuse demons and shield the building from threats of fire, lightning, and witches' spells, The Independent reports.

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Lasting symbols of such rites include two double V signs for the Virgin Mary, two mesh patterns to "net" the devil and his demons, and a wheel-shaped "hexfoil," intended also to trap supernatural, malicious forces. Animal bones in a chimney, dating to the early 1700s, were also apparently used to distract the devil in the Tower. Fifty-four different ritual burns also mark a part of the fortress' interior; 20 ritual protection burns were used to protect the Queen's House, where the monarch's representative in the Tower of London lived.

Taken together, the discoveries amount to one of the largest groups of ritual protection marks ever found in Britain, Matthew Champion, an expert on ritual graffiti, said.