Mummified, Dried & Smoked Cats In the Archaeological Record

The discovery of dried or mummified cats – having been intentionally concealed within the wall cavities of old buildings – are now recognised as just one component of past ritual building protection.

Prosaic explanations have long been dismissed. In some instances, the cats had been posed into hunting scenes, ‘pegged’ into place, affixed with wire or inserted into the wall cavity ‘post mortem’ – which allowed for ‘pre-rigor-mortis’ posing and placement. In some cases, it is apparent that an attempt had been made to desiccate or smoke the cats prior to their insertion.

In many 17th century houses, they may have been immured to act as guardians for the home but whose prey may have been ‘spiritual’ vermin.

Witches were thought to work their evil by the means of familiars, often in the form of lesser animals. In the imaginations of the witch hunters of the Early Modern Period (c. AD 1550-1800), cats had become associated with the supernatural.

An Illustrated ZOOM talk by Wayne Perkins


Wayne Perkins has been an archaeologist for over 22 years, seven of those spent excavating in France. He is a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

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Nov 7th 2023 8:00 pm - 09:30 pm

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