Introduction: Building Magic : Ritual and Re-enchantment in Post-Medieval Structures
Buildings contain many secrets and hidden histories concealed from the human eye. We may think we know our homes intimately and then one day renovations, the cleaning of an old chimney, or the investigation of an obscure corner of the rafters, reveals objects that intrigue, raise questions, and sometimes unsettle. Old clothes, shoes, bones, desiccated animals, human bodies, money, figurines, bottles, playing cards, books, newspapers, old documents, knives, horseshoes, animal hearts, holed stones, bits of old iron, and prehistoric stone tools have all been found over the centuries. Some were intended to be recovered by their concealers, some were left for posterity, some were never intended to be revealed again, and some were merely accidental losses. In the past some such finds were considered curious enough to be deemed newsworthy, particularly with the rise of regional and local newspapers from the mid-nineteenth century. In 1921, for instance, the Lancashire Daily Post reported that during the renovation of the now Grade II listed Admiralty Cottage, Broadstairs, workmen found under the floorboards some coins of George III, some old visiting cards, a pack of playing cards and an old military pike head. A few items found their way into the curio collections of the numerous local museums that sprang up across the country, but many such finds went unrecorded or were thrown away as household rubbish.