LONDON – The United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council is currently funding a project based on witch bottles, in an effort to understand more about this type of practice. It’s being helmed by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), “an experienced and innovative archaeology and built heritage practice” and MOLA’s finds specialist Nigel Jeffries is in charge, along with Owen Davies, and Ceri Houlbrook from the University of Hertfordshire – both experts in the history of witchcraft and magic. Witch bottles still turn up in older houses across Britain, dating from earlier times: they are typically filled with pins, coils of wool, tangled threads, nails, needles and, sometimes, human urine. They are supposed to attract negative spells, which become tangled in all the mess in the bottle and can’t get free – a bit like a dark dream-catcher. You can make a specific witch bottle for a person: put their name in it, fill the bottle with pins, wool, and ideally something intimate from the intended target.