AN OPEN-air museum is searching for ‘witch posts’ across Bournemouth.

Staff at Ryedale Folk Museum are seeking help to locate the carved wooden posts which were historically used as means of protection for the supernatural.

For years, it has been thought that there are fewer than 20 ‘witch posts’ still in existence, clustered geographically around the North York Moors in North Yorkshire.

Ryedale Folk Museum has three posts in its collection, but staff believe there might be others across the UK, including in Bournemouth.

Brian Hoggard, author of ‘Magical House Protection, The Archaeology of Counter Witchcraft’, explained: “The fear people had of the supernatural was, by today’s standards, all pervasive.

"They used object and marking as a means of protection. There were old shoes concealed for use as decoys, herbal charms and written incantations used for myriad purposes, and, of course, apotropaic marks for keeping evil at bay.

“The ‘witch posts’ were part of the range of steps taken by people in their attempts to feel safe.

“Be that that from intruders or fire, or from more supernatural elements.”

Jennifer Smith, director at Ryedale Folk Museum, added: “Always located next to a fireplace within 17th century homes, they had practical purposes supporting the bressummer, but it’s the carved design that we’re very interested in.

"What makes ‘witch posts’ different is that they are marked with an X, a known protective mark.”