Centuries old ‘witch marks’ found in ancient cave

Credit: Cresswell Heritage Trust

Centuries old ‘witch marks’ found in ancient cave

It’s been a bloody good month for cavers and archaeologists in the UK. First of all, they found some ancient Roman dick and balls carvings in quarries near Hadrian’s Wall, which is impressive enough in itself, but a separate recent discovery in the Cresswell Crags Cave System is reminiscent of something from a bloody horror movie. They’ve found a whole litany of carvings designed to repel evil spirits, witches and demons inside the darkest corridors of the caves.

Before we go on, we’ll just ask you one thing. Have you seen The Descent? That one is a f**ken kickass horror movie about cave monsters. We’re going to suggest that whatever the old townspeople responsible for these markings thought was inhabiting the caves, they should just be happy it wasn’t those bloody troglodytes. F**k that!

The entry to the caves. Credit: Cresswell Heritage Trust

Anyway, staff members at the caves have known the markings were there for bloody ages, but they didn’t have the foggiest what they were. Yeah, nah, they thought it was just graffiti from back in the day when anyone could go and etch their name into s**t. Turns out they were f**ken wrong, but.

When a couple of cavers, Hayley Clark and Ed Waters, recognised some of the symbols: the old Latin symbol for Jesus and the twinned V’s representative of the Virgin Mary, they alerted the Creswell Heritage Trust.

The symbol for the Virgin Mary. Credit: Cresswell Heritage Trust

Their find is pretty bloody significant. There are so many protective wards carved into the walls there, that it’s probably the biggest historical example of its kind in the UK. Numbering into the thousands, the sheer quantity of them has seen the cave system dubbed the Gateway to Hell.

Paul Baker, the director of the Cresswell Heritage Trust, said, “You can’t help but wonder: How scared were they of something? What were they concerned about that they would go to this level? There is no area that hasn’t got a mark on it somewhere.”

The drawings go back as far as the Medieval era and supposedly span a period of time almost three-hundred years long, showing that the marks were renewed time and time again. By our calculations, that takes it back to a time when they were burning witches.

The caves’ heritage interpreter says that to the locals of the time, the caves were, “places where supernatural forces in an untamed non-human environment could be at work. Local people were in the jaws of this monstrous landscape.”

The symbol for Jeebers. Credit: Cresswell Heritage Trust

Final thought: This sort of s**t’s pretty bloody fascinating. Obviously, we now know there’s no need for the old Malleus Maleficarum, but back then, witches were real and so was the presence of evil. Anyone who’s got a dodgy old mole can thank f**k we now know that’s all bulls**t. Phew!

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