Glass ‘witch bottle’ from Civil War found in Virginia highway median

Civil War ‘witch bottle’ found in Virginia highway

A glass “witch bottle” dating from the Civil War and likely used as a rare ritual item to ward off evil was found by researchers during an expansion of a Virginia highway.

The bottle was found during a 2016 excavation for Civil War artifacts before a widening project of I-64 in York County, officials with the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research said Wednesday.

“It was this glass bottle full of nails, broken, but all there, near an old brick hearth,” Joe Jones, director of the center, said in a release. “We thought it was unusual, but weren’t sure what it was.”

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Researchers believe it was a witch bottle, which served as a talisman to ward off evil spirits. The witch bottle tradition started in England in the late Middle Ages.

The site was once a Civil War garrison constructed by the South and taken over by the Union after the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862.

A glass “witch bottle” dating from the Civil War and likely used as a rare ritual item to ward off evil was found by researchers during an expansion of a Virginia highway.
A glass “witch bottle” dating from the Civil War and likely used as a rare ritual item to ward off evil was found by researchers during an expansion of a Virginia highway. (William & Mary Archaeological Research/William & Mary Archaeological Research)