Medieval suicide baiting-East Anglians had no chill

If an individual in the marshy fenland of medieval Eastern England became radically unpopular among his fellows, he might find this symbol painted on his door:

suicide_bait

Pictured: a horizontal rectangle representing a willow stake, crossed through vertically with a stylized hemp branch. The cross is surrounded by the words ‘Both grown for you’.

Suicides were traditionally buried at crossroads with a willow stake driven through the body to prevent the spirit from wandering.
Hemp was used for making rope.

An unsubtle hint that the individual should go hang themselves.

Source: The Devil’s Plantation; East Anglian Lore, Witchcraft and Folk Magic by Nigel G Pearson, Troy Books, 2015.

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One thought on “Medieval suicide baiting-East Anglians had no chill

  1. My mother used to talk about Aboriginals ‘pointing the bone’. She was not of Aboriginal descent (as far as I know) but lived close to the Aboriginal community at La Perouse (in Sydney) as a child. If a person had ‘the bone pointed at them’ by community (often in circle around a campfire) they usually sickened and died within weeks.

    The Anglian custom sounds like a similar ostracism. It is interesting to me that most communities living closely with nature had ways of excluding those they didn’t perceive as fitting. A whole discussion topic in itself.

    Thanks for sharing this information

    Liked by 1 person

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