There is a web of sites around the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, that are often seen as places where the veil between the worlds is thin. The waterfall at Nectan’s Glen, the carved labyrinths at Rocky Valley, and the memorial stone to Joan Wytte, reputed nineteenth century Bodmin witch, where genius loci (spirits of place) dwell. One way of thinking about experiences at these sites is to think of the uncanny – the prickle on the back of the neck, the feeling of being watched by other-than-human persons, the sense of time slippage or dislocation from the everyday. Rather than see these feelings of the uncanny triggered by primal fears, I use this map of a magical Cornwall to think about how the uncanny may also be an invitation – although not necessarily benign – towards encounters with animated and live otherworlds.
Dr Helen Cornish (Anthropologist, Goldsmiths): I have carried out anthropological fieldwork with British witches and Pagans on histories of modern witchcraft since 2000. Most of my research has been in Sussex and at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. I am completing a book that looks at how witchcraft histories have been negotiated over the last twenty years. Some photos of the Cornish sites can currently be found at the Shared Sacred Landscapes online exhibition at https://www.sharedsacred.com/helen-cornish.htm