08/12/2011 10:31 GMT

Witch's Cottage With Mummified Cat Discovered In Lancashire

A real-life witches cottage is thought to have been unearthed in the heart of coven country, a mummified cat buried alive in its walls.

The discovery of the 17th century cottage near Pendle Hill, Lancashire was described as “spellbinding” by historians, who suspect it could have been the home to Pendle witches and warlocks.

In the shadow of Pendle Hill, a family of ‘witches’ were said to have dwelt in Malkin tower, who with their magical powers, killed livestock, turned milk blue and made voodoo dolls with human hair and teeth. Witch trials in 1612 saw 20 people killed for witchcraft.

The mummified cat, buried alive in the wall of a sealed room, would have been used as a good luck chalice, warding off evil spirits. A C19th range was also found in the cottage. Both are likely to have been from much later than the Pendle Witch trials but reveal the spooky links of the area.

Simon Entwistle, an expert on the Pendle witches, told the BBC: "In terms of significance, it's like discovering Tutankhamun's tomb.

"We are just a few months away from the 400th anniversary of the Pendle witch trials, and here we have an incredibly rare find, right in the heart of witching country.

"This could well be the famous Malkin Tower - which has been a source of speculation and rumour for centuries.

"Cats feature prominently in folklore about witches. Whoever consigned this cat to such a horrible fate was clearly seeking protection from evil spirits."

Water engineers from United Utilities found the remains of the cottage whilst digging close to a local reservoir Lower Black Moss.

Carl Sanders, United Utilities' project manager, said: "It's not often you come across a fairytale cottage complete with witch's cat.

"The building is in remarkable condition. You can walk through it and get a real sense that you're peering into the past.

"Pendle Hill has a real aura about it, and it's hard not to be affected by the place.

"Even before we discovered the building, there were lots of jokes from the lads about broomsticks and black cats. The find has really stunned us all."