• Steven J Taylor

Witch Pricking, Newcastle Witches..

I was asked today with reference to my last post about witch pricking, what is it?

I sometimes forget that folk may not know what these things are.


Witch pricking was a cruel way to search for witch marks or areas on the witches body that had no feeling. The belief was that the devil would leave a mark with his tongue often in a private area and suckle her blood.

The witch pricker would be a man often with the aid of a women who would prick a witch to test the witches body. This was horrific, as many as hundred wounds or more could be inflicted, many inches deep in all areas of the body, any mole, lump or bump, birthmark or scare would be pricked.

In image 2 you can see a bodkin used during the Scottish and Northern England witch trials during 1649 and 1650. Probably by far the worst in the UK with over 600 people accused, women and men were tortured, burnt by the hundreds, hung in groups of 10 or more at a time. In Newcastle 14 were hung after been tortured and to think that the witch pricking part was not even classed as torture, only examination. In total 30 Newcastle witches were accused in 1649, December that year seen them all thrown in to prison. They were subject to pricking, torture, sleep deprivation. Many would die from the cold and starvation and suicide.


The Witches were subjected to a jury or puritan men along with 3 prickers. In the Newcastle case the witches would have the under garments removed so they were bare from the hips down in from of up to 30 religious men. The psychological shame would have been bad enough for these poor witches. But the pricker had a con, he was earning in to days money around £103 per witch, that was around 14 days skilled pay. He would prick over 200 witches earning a tidy sum around £20.600 in one year. John Kinked the pricker would use science to get a guilty verdict. By embarrassing the witch and lifting up her skirts her blood would flush her face and redirect, he would use a pin that barely pricked the skin, the result was that no blood would flow, there for she or he was found guilty of Witchcraft with proof the devil had suckled them dry.

To be continued.... Follow www.instagram.com/exploringwitchcraft @exploringwitchcraft for more...

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