Bull's heart pierced with nails and thorns.
Place details: EUROPE. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland / England Somerset Chipstable Shutes Hill Farm. Cultural Group: European, British, English: Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Iron Metal / Plant Thorn / Animal Part / ?. Processes: ?. Dimensions: Max L = 130 mm H = 92 mm W = 98 mm D = 125 mm Maker: Unknown Field Collector: Mr Parkman When Collected: By 1892 Other Owners: Edward Burnett Tylor PRM Source: Anna Rebecca Tylor Acquired: Loaned September 1892 Donated 1917
KEYWORD: Religious Object / Animal Part / Amulet / CLASS: Religion / Animalia / ?.
Publications history, trails & websites: Illustrated on page 71 of the exhibition catalogue 'Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft' as Figure 63 (mistake in the publication as it is actually figure 64) with the caption 'Bull's heart pierced with nails and thorns, found in a chimney at Shutes Hill Farm, Somerset. Animal hearts were usually placed in the chimney to smoke and shrivel, hurting those practising witchcraft. Copyright Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford (1917.53.600)' [FB 19/10/2018]
Discussed on page 389 of 'Exhibition of Charms and Amulets', by E. B. Tylor, in The International Folk-Lore Congress 1891: Papers and Transactions [of the Second International Folk-Lore Congress held at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, from Thursday 1 to Wednesday October 7 1891], edited by Joseph Jacobs and Alfred Nutt (London: David Nutt, for the Organizing Committee, 1892), pp. 387-93; see also page 460 of 'Catalogue of the Exhibition of Objects Connected with Folk-Lore in the Rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House: Prepared by the Chairman of the Entertainment Committee', same publication, pp. 433-60. Tylor writes (page 389): 'Here is one of the famous hearts stuck through with pins which are to be hung up in chimneys of country cottages, with the idea that, as the heart shrivels in the smoke, so the victim will shrivel away; and as the pins stuck through and through penetrate deeply, so pains and disease and agony and death will go to the person to be attacked.' This is presumably one of the 'Charms' listed under Tylor's name on page 460 of 'Catalogue of the Exhibition of Objects Connected with Folk-Lore in the Rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House: Prepared by the Chairman of the Entertainment Committee', same publication, pp. 433-60. [JC 23 11 2007, 7 12 2007, 5 12 2014]
Discussed on page 246 of 'Documents of British Superstition in Oxford (A Lecture Delivered before the Oxford University Anthropological Society, on the 2nd of November, 1949)', by Ellen Ettlinger, in Folklore, Vol. 54, no. 1 (March 1943), pp. 227-49. Quoting information supplied by T. K. Penniman of the PRM (see note 12 on page 230), she writes: 'As well as an image of clay, a beast's heart serves malefic sorcery, and this custom too is manifestly of immemorial antiquity. A bullock's heart pierced with large nails and thorns "was found in 1892, hung up in a chimney in Shutes Hill Farm, Chipstable, Somerset. Together with the heart was found an object, said to be a toad [PRM 1918.53.601], also stuck with thorns." The fundamental idea of the charm, parallels to which have been described in Somerset stories, is that as the heart shrivels in the smoke so the victim will shrivel away.' Ettlinger also refers here to page 97 of Witchcraft in Old and New England, by G. L. Kittredge (Cambridge, Mass., 1929) and p. 106 of Tales of the Blackdown Borderland, by Mathews (Somerset Folk Series, no. 13), as well as to Tylor's discussion (see above). [Unsigned, no date; JC 23 11 2007]
Research notes: A brief account of the discovery of this and 1917.53.601 appeared on page 5 of the Wellington Weekly News for Thursday 5 May 1892 under the heading 'District News': 'Chipstable. A most curious discovery was made the other day at Shute Hill Farm by Mr. Parkman, who on cleaning out his chimney came across 30 to 40 hearts of animals. Some of the hearts were thickly covered with prickles. How they came in the chimney is not yet known.' (Copy in RDF.) [JC 7 3 2006]
Note that in the Folklore Journal there is an article 'Dorset Folk-Lore' J. J. Foster The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2 (1888), pp. 115-119, which states: 'Fairies come down the chimney and do a deal of harm if you don't stop them. The way to keep them out is to hang a bullock's heart in the chimney ...' [p. 116]