Welcome to the WEME project tutorial

Here you will find a number of resources which will encourage you to explore the brutish and banal events in early English witchcraft.

Please explore the site as a whole. From the main page you can link to details on much of the site, including “Download Your Own Familiar,” and consult a simple list of all the witches in the site, so you can quickly see what you are looking for. However, robust exploration tools are found under Witch Tools.

Witch Tools will allow you to investigate moments and events in witchcraft across space, time, and text. It features detailed assertions and experimental visualizations about the people and preternatural beings associated with the events in early English witchcraft and the places where witchcraft allegedly happened.

By clicking on the various titles in the navigation block, you will be able to move through the witch tools under development here at WEME. 

All of these resources are designed to compliment one another. WEME is creating a visual schema to compliment the conceptual schema used to categorize witchcraft. Representations of events and people are colour coded and illustrated. The legend on Throwing Bones will show you cards and their classifications.

Once you recognize the schema (such as supernatural beings called “preternaturals” and appear in purple), you will begin to recognize patterns across the different tools.

There are four main tools in the WEME catalogue:

Throwing Bones

The Witch Map

The Facetted Browser, and

The Proximity Search

Once you have seen the options available, you can close the navigation block by clicking the X. From this point on, you can navigate the site using the blue arrows (located at the corners of the panes) to move around.

The first resource you might see is Throwing Bones. This is an experimental interface designed to allow users to see varied dimensions of events in witchcraft.

Searching Throwing Bones

You can browse the data in Throwing Bones in one of three ways:

  1. You can “Search Full Text” or the “Search Database.”
  2. You can use filter based criteria such as source, author, event type, or classification, or
  3. You can filter data based on a date range.

Searching full text will generate a thumbnail of the page your hit is on. If you click on the thumbnail, you can download a PDF of this page. You can search use the Full Text and Database at the same time as well. This will allow you the benefit of the key word search and a category search.

You can also also narrow your search search using all the filters found on top of the page. This will give you a detailed model of the contents of the data base.

The Time Line

Events are first presented to you along a timeline which can be expanded or collapsed by pulling the two pointers apart or together. The date rage appears on the top of the timeline. A frequency map overlays the timeline. The white bubbles begin to appear on the map to indicate moments in time when witchcraft happens.The larger the bubble, the more events.

The events that occur within the period specified in the timeline will appear in the viewing area below it as piles of cards and on the side of the viewing area as short text excerpts.

Each of these piles represents a moment in English witchcraft history. There are two different types of cards in the files: Event Cards and the People Cards. The top card in every cluster will always be an Event Card; it classifies the (alleged) event (e.g. familiar magic, searching, murder). The larger the cluster is, the more people and preternatural beings associated with the event. Therein you will find people cards (e.g. witch, victim, examiner), and preternatural cards (e.g. familiar, spirit, and Devil). The Legend will allow you see all of the different kinds of cards currently on the site. 

You can also hover over any single card in a stack of cards with your mouse, and it will show you the various ways we have categorized that person or event. In the cases where more than one thing was happening within a single moment (such as bewitchment, designed to harm animals), or a woman who both witched and unwitched, we have hierarchically classified each person and event up to three different ways.

If you would like to see the details associated with that moment, you can click on the stack and it will unfold the cards for you. Clicking on individual cards will display the information associated with the card. At times the explanations gleaned from the texts have been vague, strangely phrased, or complicated. The best interpretation possible has been given.

We have created a short summary about the person or event, calling these phrases “assertions” about witchcraft, as a way of avoiding any hint of a truth claim about them. In cases where the claim made in the text has been vague, the original language has been preserved in our assertion. In all cases a short excerpt from the original text has also been included, as has the necessary material for complete citations.

If you would like to keep any of the information from the pile you opened, you can drag and drop the card into your basket and click on the basket to download a PDF, or email a copy to yourself.

NOTE: Throwing Bones does not save the contents of your basket, so you must download or email the contents before you close the pile.

Clicking the blue arrow on the right side of the screen will then take you to the Witch Map.

The Witch Map.

The Witch Map sits to the right of Throwing Bones, allowing you to quickly switch between these two tools. The Witch Map is designed to allow you to see the events in Early English witchcraft spatially and temporally.

Many of the filters available in Throwing Bones are also available in the Witch Map, including the timeline. Multiple events occur in the same location, as you will see in Throwing Bones, so the markers on the map do not necessarily reveal the depth of information associated with any one space. You will want to play with the filters and the timeline to see how much information is associated with any one space.

The map legend can also be hooked up to the timeline (where the filters cannot). This is designed to allow you to see emerging trends in witchcraft across space. This allows you to look at the emergence, for instance, or legal trends in witch-finding and prosecuting, across England.

At any point in time, you can click on the marker and see the information associated with that space.

For quick reference, all of the events which appear on the map-space also appear as text below the map, so do scroll down to have a look.

Along the top of the map, where you find the satellite, and hybrid options, you will also see the historic map overlays on the Witch Map. These only work with the full size map, and, truthfully, don’t fit very well. This was an early experiment, one we might revisit, and one we still think looks stunning. So, please do go and have a look at them so you might see how England began to imagine itself while it was imagining the witches.

Because events are associated with time and space, but people may not be, the map looks to pin point where events happened, associating people with the locations. Where is has not been possible locate the exact place in a village, we have used our best judgement to allow you to see approximately where events have happened.

Clicking the blue arrow pointing downward on the right side of the screen will take you to the Faceted Browser.

The Faceted Browser

The WEME Browser allows you to search across the increasingly large database by category. The main categories you see reflected are the categories we have in our database and ones we feels are essential for creating a dimensional image of our witchcraft cases.

The locations you have just explored in the map can also be seen here, broken down for you into counties, and in the cases of texts referencing countries other than England, those countries. We have chosen to classify by county on the main page, however, you can explore places within the counties as well.


Searching across categories like “People” will give you a good idea of the kinds of people associated with witchcraft. We have classified people in a few ways, in terms of their witchid -- what they are in the event (i.e. witch or victim), their gender, and also their names. We have a great deal of anonymous people in our database, it is a limitation of the information in the accounts, and as such, the names of a number of people appear under “A” and “A person” or “Anonymous.”

The same is true for the Preternaturals, which are often not named. To rectify this, we have included a search function here to allow you to hopefully find what you are looking for.

If you cannot find what you are looking for in the Witch Browser, perhaps you could look in the proximity search?

Clicking the blue arrow pointing on the inside of the screen point left will then take you to the Proximity search.

The Proximity Search

The Proximity Search is a quick search engine of the full text of all witchcraft documents within the WEME corpus.

Unlike the other search features on the site, this one allows you to enter two search strings, such as devil and witch, and set parameters to locate them within any number of words. For example, the word witch and the word devil are likely to be more closely related if they are found within 5 words of one another, than if they are within 50.

If you are using WEME from a university that has access to Early English Books Online, this will allow you to go straight to that resource as a full text. If you are not, you can see if we have access to that text in the WEME database and look it up that way too.

Thank You

These are the main features of the WEME site. We do hope you enjoy your time here among the witches. Please contact us to report any bugs you find or if you would like to contribute content to the WEME project.

All site content copyright © Uszkalo except where noted. Images courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.