Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft

Ashmolean Museum

31 August 2018 – 6 January 2019

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This exhibition explores the history of a fascinating cultural phenomenon – magic.

Human heart in heart-shaped lead and silver case, found concealed in a niche in the pillar in the crypt beneath Christ’s Church, Cork, 12th or 13th century

Spellbound displays 180 objects from 12th-century Europe to newly commissioned contemporary works. They range from the beautiful and mysterious (crystal balls, books of spells), the bizarre and macabre (a unicorn’s horn, a human heart encased in lead), to the profoundly touching (the testimony of women accused of witchcraft, and lovers’ padlocks cut from Leeds Centenary Bridge).

Exploring the inner lives of our ancestors, the exhibition offers an insight into how people in the past actually felt and what they did to cope with the world they lived in.

It looks at human hopes, fears and passions and asks visitors questions about their own beliefs and rituals, showing how even in this sceptical age, we still use magical thinking.

Venue information

Opening times

Tue – Sun, Bank Holiday Mon, 10am – 5pm

Closed 24 – 26 Dec

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