“Several timber-framed houses in Yorkshire and Lancashire still preserve curiously carved oak beams that were once thought to be a defence against witches. These beams were usually planted upright to support the lintel over the hearth in the living-room. A St. Andrew’s cross was incised at the top and beneath it were carved horizontal bands, varying from 1 to 12. Occasionally, the date of the carving was added. It was believed that a witch could not enter beyond the post; nor while it stood, could she lay a spell upon the hearth of the house that contained one of these powerful talismans.
As belief in witchcraft faded during the 18th century the witch-posts were removed and re-used in the building of barns and outhouses. Only three or four of the posts are known to stand in their original positions. The Rydale Folk Museum at Hutton-le-Hole, Yorkshire, possesses some examples of witch-posts (right). Most are tenoned and peg-holed at the top, indicating where they were attached to a cross-beam. At the bottom they are often drilled to take the supports of an inglenook seat.”
Caption: “THREE YORKSHIRE WITCH-POSTS One came from a shoemaker’s shop in Danby (left); another from a farm in Glaisdale (centre); and the third from an old house in Scarborough (right).”
All from “Folklore, myths and legends of Britain” published by “The Reader’s Digest Association Limited 1973.”