Amulet - a loop of Rowan tree. [DCF Court Team 23/1/2003]

Place details: EUROPE. UK. England North Yorkshire Grosmont [Esk Valley]. Cultural Group: European English Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Wood Plant / ?. Processes: ?. Dimensions: Max L = 70 mm Maker: Unknown Field Collector: John Christopher Atkinson When Collected: By 1893 Other Owners: John Christopher Atkinson PRM Source: John Christopher Atkinson Acquired: Donated 28 February 1893 Documentation: Correspendence from Atkinson to Tylor in Manuscript Collections, Tylor Papers. Drawing, photocopies, etc. in RDF PRM Image: PR 362 Q Collections Digital Reference Photo 18/06/2013

KEYWORD: Religious Object / Amulet / CLASS: Religion / ?Ornament / ?.

Accession Book Entry - "Feb 28 REV. CANON J. C. ATKINSON, Danby Parsonage, Grosmont, York. ... - [1 of] 3 Rowan tree loops used as prophylactics against witches, Castleton, Grosmont, York.

[Geographical] Card Catalogue Entry - exactly as Accession Book except just lists provenance as England Yorkshire Grosmont Castleton

[Typological] Card Catalogue Entry - There is no further information on the catalogue card. [MdeA 4/3/99]

Detailed Amulet Card Catalogue - Amulets I Prophylatic J-K Evil Eye L Luck, prosperity M Skill, nat[ural] powers N Health, Strength, Long life [NB: There is no drawing of this object] - I. Specific prophylactic amulets - I.4a Witches, fairies, ghosts, spirits - 2. Witches - Description: [One of] Three Rowan-Tree loops of different sizes used as pro-phylactics against witches, two of them were placed on the railing of Dr. Alexander's house, Castleton, Yorkshire, and the third on a spike of the gate leading to Castleton church porch. They were so placed by a horseman who turned his horse round three times before depositing each loop. Locality: Castleton, Yorkshire. How Acquired: Pres. by Canon Atkinson, 1893

Related Documents File - Photocopy of a letter from Atkinson to Tylor dated March 5 1892. The extract relating to this object reads " ... [I] am disappointed that I get no confirmation from any of my correspondents. It is the same with the witch-wood. There is an unlucky spirit of reticence upon those who, I am convinced, could give information; a spirit which more than one of my correspondents notes quite independently of my own experience." [JP 16/8/2004]

Publications history, trails & websites: Mentioned in Ellen Ettlinger, Folklore vol 54, no. 1, (March 1943) pp 227-249, 'Equally common prophylactics in Great Britain are rowan-tree-amulets, two different forms of which can be found in the Pitt Rivers Museum, namely crosses and loops. The rowan-tree-crosses, "made by an old man in Corgarff, Strathdon Aberdeen about 1893" were put into every opening in the house to secure the inhabitants from the intrusion of witches.[Rev Walter Gregor in the International Folklore Congress p 451] In this case the protective power of the rowan-tree itself is enhanced by the sacred form of the cross. Regarding the rowan-tree-loops, the efficacy of the material was intensified by a magical rite, for we learn that "two of them were fixed as protection against witches on the railing of Dr Alexander's house in Castleton, Yorks., and a third one on a gate spike before the church porch by a horseman who turned his horse thrice before setting each loop. [Information from PRM according to Canon Atkinson]' [p.238]

Other information: For the other two loops see 1893.18.2 and 1893.18.3. [MdeA 4/3/99]