ib-witch-s-heart-2017-3-1-data.jpg

The Witches Heart - The Moot Logo

On the north side of Tuesday Market, a large square fringed by the Corn Exchange, pubs and hotels, numbers 15 and 16 hide a wicked secret: above one of the windows, carved into the red brick is a diamond shape and within it, a somewhat crudely carved heart.

 

But this heart doesn't mark romance, it marks the death of Margaret Read, a woman burned at the stake in the square in 1590, a full three decades before Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins was even born and almost 60 years before he would begin his witch purges in the east of England.

Read was accused and then found guilty of witchcraft, her punishment was to be burnt in the marketplace. The marketplace had a long history of being the site of executions, both hangings and burnings, all of which would have been witnessed by inquisitive crowds.

Legend has it that as she was being consumed by flames, Margaret's heart burst from her chest, smashed into the spot above the window which is now marked with a diamond and then fell to the ground before it beat a determined path to the nearby River Ouse where it sank beneath the surface, the water bubbling and roiling as it was enveloped.