1908.11.1

Limestone pebble hung behind a door as a lucky stone.

Place details: EUROPE. UK. England Northumberland Newbiggin-by-the-sea. Cultural Group: European English Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Limestone Stone / String / ?. Processes: ?. Dimensions: Max L = 41 mm Maker: Unknown Field Collector: Miss Humble ? When Collected: February 1908 Other Owners: William Twizell; Miss Humble PRM Source: Miss Humble per Alexander James Montgomerie Bell Acquired: Donated February 1908 PRM Image: Collections Digital Reference Photo 07/08/2009

KEYWORD: Amulet / Stone / CLASS: Religion / Ornament / Dwelling / Geology / ?.

Accession Book Entry - MISS HUMBLE, Newbiggin-by-the-sea, Northumberland. Feb. - Beach pebble of black limestone bored by pholas, hung behind a door in the cottage of William Twizel, fisherman, as a “lucky-stone”. Several of these hung by the various doors of the cottage, Feb. 10. 1908. Newbiggin-by-the-sea. per A.M. Bell, Esq.

[Geographical] Card Catalogue Entry - exactly as Accession Book

Detailed Amulet card catalogue entry - 'Amulets ) O. Inscribed P. Talismans in cases Q Uninscribed single R Collars, necklets, armlets, rings S-T Juju [sic] U-W Stone X. Dance Y. Unclassed. - Naturally perforated stones Gt Britain Description: Beach pebble of black limestone bored by pholas which was hung behind the cottage door of William Twizel, fisherman, as a "lucky stone". About a dozen similar stones hung by the various doors of the cottage. With original string for suspension. Dimensions: 37 x 32 x 29 Locality: Newbiggin-by-the-sea Northumberland Collected by: the donor Feb 10 1908 How Acquired: d.d. Miss Humble per A.M. Bell Esq Feb. 1908'

Publications history, trails & websites: Referred to on page 235 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. Ettlinger writes: 'More frequently, however, holed stones were fastened to the house- or byre-door, as is shown in three examples in the Pitt Rivers Museum, to keep away witches and pixies, or just for good luck. The first [1884.56.3] was found nailed to the door of a man called Kimber, who was a carter at Rushmore (near Salisbury), employed by General Pitt Rivers. The second [1896.76.3] served in 1896 in Ballymena (N. Ireland) to prevent pixies from stealing the milk, while the third [1908.11.1], a pebble of black limestone, bored by pholas, was hung behind the door of William Twizel's cottage in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland.' [Unsigned, no date; JC 18 2 2010]

Discussed in detail in ‘A Fisherman’s “Lucky Stone” from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland’, by Eric Edwards, in the ‘Object Biographies’ section of England: The Other Within—Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford (2008–), online at http://england.prm.ox.ac.uk/. [JC 24 1 2011]

Research notes: OED online: Pholas: A piddock. Later: a burrowing bivalve mollusc of the genus Pholas, esp. the common piddock, P. dactylus; (in form Pholas), the genus itself. [AP 21/09/2006]

It is probable the original owner's surname was misspelled in the accession book as there is no mention of a William Twizel in the 1901 census. Indeed, there is no mention of anyone with this surname spelt with a single L. There are, however, several people mentioned with this surname spelled with two Ls, including a William Twizell, a retired fisherman aged 72, who was born and lived in Newbiggin Northumberland. He is likely to have been the original owner. [Alison Petch [as part of 'The Other Within' project 2006-9] 01/03/2007; JC 24 1 2011]