Ice Age Sites of Britain's Serpents - Part Three

Workplace locations of witches and serpents show how fake folklore hid England's food-distribution network. Tue 02 May 2023

Ale-wife and customers, St Thomas a Becket church, Salisbury. Source: Seeing The Past

From Witch Trials:

In the Chester Mystery Plays... there are no actual witches.

... the nearest approach to a female witch is the Ale-Wife in the "Harrowing of Hell" (performed by the guild of Cooks, Tapsters, Ostlers and Innkeepers)

Cooks and innkeepers feature in the popular entertainment of the middle ages but no witches? Seems odd.

Seems odd because Britain's 17th century witch trials are very well-known. Chester, Bury St Edmunds, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Northampton, North Berwick in Scotland...

Much less well-known are the sites from which Britain's witches - those accused ale-wives - ran their businesses:

Concentrated workplaces of Britain's most notorious witches. And ale-wives.


  • Blue marker: Workplace location of witches brought to trial
  • Violet marker: Location with detailed description but no known trial
  • Green marker: Alleged or fantasy trial, seemingly copied from earlier witch trials (usually from eastern England)

Zoom in to see some witch locations are in lines - two north of London and a curved line in eastern Kent. Just like serpent conflict locations. But closer together.

Now let's compare Britain's witch workplaces with Britain's serpent conflict locations.

The map is getting busy so we'll use blue markers for all witch locations and dump the green markers that indicate the most obviously forged/duplicated witch accounts.

Black markers show locations with serpent conflict folklore and yellow markers show folklore about sleeping serpents or serpent guards hiding underground:

Witch workplaces compared with serpent folklore sites


  • Black marker: Serpent/dragon/worm battle location
  • Bright yellow marker: Serpent/dragon/worm sleeping or guarding location
  • Dull yellow marker: Serpent/dragon/worm landscape feature location
  • Blue markers: Locations associated with witch practices

It seems witches mostly operated in the gaps between serpent conflict locations.

Especially in eastern England: in the East Midlands and East Anglia and in eastern Kent.

What connection between witches and serpents would leave such an odd pattern?

Remembering the markers show where witches lived and worked - not where they were tried - let's look for clues in Kent's witchy workplaces.

Kent's witches apparently worked the south eastern end of a serpent-witch folklore trail along the London-Dover stretch of the Watling Way. Five witch workplaces in Kent seem to continue the Watling Way trail from Wormshill to Dover.

Though they preferred to work near Kent's future railway routes:

Kent's witches lived on the wrong side of the tracks


Many witch locations are close to intersections where river meets road or where river meets future railway. Perhaps witches saw future technologies in their crystal balls and set up shop accordingly.

More likely, the development of farm managers from Roman vicare into priests and witches (vicare -> vicar -> wicca -> witch) ran parallel with freight transport technology.

From Chedworth Roman Villa, Current Archaeology issue 284, November 2013, p32:

One close villa neighbour is to be found at Withington [Gloucestershire], a short way up the Coln Valley to the north-west, or one stop on the railway line that once ran behind the Chedworth villa. There are many more examples in the area. In fact, so numerous are they, and so regularly spaced, that it is possible to predict where a villa might be

Meaning: remains of Roman villas are near stops on the Cirencester-Andoversford stretch of the Swindon and Cheltenham Extension Railway. Whose construction details and dates are noticeably undocumented compared to the line's southern stretch between Swindon and Cirencester.

The same rule applies to the complex of Roman villas around Lullingstone Roman villa near Eynsford in Kent.

From Roman Darent Valley:

There may have been as many as thirteen Roman sites between Dartford and Kemsing, although all may not have been villas.

Exactly. Some were 'Roman stations'. That's what Victorians called them. If they had called them 'Holy Roman stations' we would know what they were talking about. Because the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806 - long after trackways, wagonways and railways were invented.

When mapped, why do locations with serpent conflict folklore look like lines across the landscape?

Why do folklore's witch workplaces tend to be at interconnections between different transport methods? Perhaps because so-called 'witches' - vicare/wicca - ran the early stages of product processing at transhipment points. That's just the logistics of 'added value'. Every plant operator and truck driver understands this.

Kent also presents evidence for several other witch workplaces. Two obvious candidates are:

  • Witchling village.
  • Old Wifes Lees with its 'Pilgrims Lane' and 'Bowerland Lane' (witches are often associated with 'bowers' - caves).

A third candidate is the manorial/palace complex around Bridge, Bekesbourne and Patrixbourne.

Turning to Oxfordshire...

The serpent folklore-finding algorithm tested in Ice Age Sites of Britain's Serpents Part Two forecast we might find sinister going ons near Hagbourne Hill, Oxfordshire. That's between the villages of Chilton and West Hagbourne. So it's gratifying then to see nearby witch folklore - three miles away at North Moreton:

Hagbourne Hill is about five miles from Didcot's known witch location - North Moreton


  • Blue marker: Workplace location of skin farmers Agnes Pepwell, Mary Pepwell, Elizabeth Gregory (wife of farmer Walter Gregory). There's another big clue in the name 'Walter'.
  • Red marker: Hagbourne Hill Manimal Farm location found by gap-filling in Ice Age Sites of Britain's Serpents - Part Two.

It seems folklore preserved the North Moreton location of some Oxfordshire witches. But it didn't preserve details of nearby Hagbourne's witches.

Notice the number of placenames containing 'Cot' and 'Cote' between North Moreton and Hagbourne Hill. This hints that south of Oxford, witches were managing skin farms that supplied the city's demand for vellum and kid leather.

We also see the Didcot, Newbury, Southampton railway running between East and West Hagbourne. When it came to distribution and logistics, those girls were way ahead of their time.

Common accusations against witches included stealing cattle and taking children. Lancaster's witch trials included allegations of cannibalism.

And bewitching cattle and children.

From Some Exmoor dialect words that reveal folklore from 1746:

Baggaged or Bygaged = Mad, bewitch'd

More details of the product range witches were processing, packing and shipping comes from an account to the north of Oxford.

From Black Annis - Wikipedia:

She is said to venture out at night looking for unsuspecting children and lambs to eat, then tanning their skins by hanging them on a tree before wearing them around her waist.

And from Black Annis - Mythology Planet:

She is said to hang the carcasses of her prey outside the cave in which she lives in Leicestershire.

Various websites claim Black Annis is a fiction or a distorted description of a Dominican nun called Agnes Scott, who 'looked after' lepers.

Whoever Black Annis was, her business line was not fictional. We've seen it before. In the video clips from Mystic Britain in How Do You Get AI to Think For Itself? Part Three. In which we also noted Sawney Beane's wife was named Agnes...

And in the book that presented more detail from the locations filmed for Mystic Britain TV series.

From Secret Britain: Unearthing our Mysterious Past, Mary-Ann Ochota:

Excavating in the 1920s, archaeologists found thousands of human bones on the cave floor, along with evidence of stone hearths, burned soil and metalwork, including gold hair ornaments. They noted the surprising number of juvenile bones, particularly legs, skulls and pieces of jaw. The skull fragments and jaws were overwhelmingly in the cave’s entrance passages. Some pieces of bone appeared polished, and one piece of skull had the feathery cut marks that you might make if you were trying to fillet a piece of meat.

Once they were in situ, their bodies were curated – perhaps laid out on display or their flesh cut away and distributed. The heads appear to be the most important parts, and were carefully arranged at the entrance.

Accompanying the text is this photograph of Sculptor's Cave:

Sculptor's Cave entrance, Covesea, Scotland. Source: Secret Britain

Secret Britain's caption for the photograph states:

The cave entrance, where the majority of juvenile skulls and jaws were discovered. Gold hair ornaments on the floor suggest the children's heads were whole when they were first placed here.

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