Tuesday, February 4, 2020

This Port Tastes Like Pee

This story is from a month ago, but it's still funny enough to post. A presenter on the BBC Antiques Roadshow television series sampled a bottle from the nineteenth century, believing it to be port. Unfortunately for him, analysis revealed the that bottle was in fact a "witch bottle" containing urine, brass pins, and other tokens intended to ward off evil.

Glass specialist Andy McConnell inspected a sealed bottle from the 19th century on the BBC show, and decided to sample its mystery contents in front of an expectant audience. Presenter Fiona Bruce had unfortunate news for Mr McConnell, telling him that expert analysis of the antique bottle’s “very brown” liquid revealed it to be an unwanted vintage.

The glassware antiquarian sipped the well-aged urine when valuing a bottle in Trelissick, Cornwall, for a 2016 programme, after the item was found buried under the threshold of a local man’s house. Mr McConnell used a syringe to transfer a sample from the bottle to a tumbler, and sipped at the mystery beverage.

“It’s very brown,” he told the audience at the time. “I think it’s port. It’s port or red wine, or it’s full of rusty old nails and that’s rust.” In a programme broadcast on Sunday, Fiona Bruce delivered bad news to the specialist, after experts at Loughborough University had analysed the contents of the bottle.

The idea behind a witch bottle is that it acts as a sort of "lightning rod" to attract curses and negative magick. The urine links the bottle to the caster so that a spell targeting them will hit the bottle instead, and the container itself and the sharp metal objects usually placed within contain and neutralize the spell, rendering it harmless.

After hundreds of years there probably isn't much magick left in the bottle, so the presenter will likely escape any negative effects from sampling the bottle - you know, aside from drinking somebody's ancient pee.

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