Redefining the Witch: how to interpret magic, feminism and women's history

Date and time: 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 10:00 to 13:45


Ryedale Folk Museum Ryedale Folk Museum Hutton-le-Hole YO62 6UA

What is a witch? Who is a witch? Why are we fascinated by magic and witches? How can we use social history collections to tell genuine stories of female empowerment and emancipation without getting lost in the myths, stereotyping or sensationalism? During the day, we will address the role of museums and heritage organisations in offering a historically-valid perspective on the topic.

This event shares the findings from research conducted by staff at the Ryedale Folk Museum, facilitated by a recent GEMYH Reach Out bursary. We will use collections, and collection stories, as a starting point for practically investigating the role of women over the centuries, focusing on ways to share heritage with sensitivity and historical accuracy, taking into account the marketing implications. We will take inspiration from stories of witches in Ryedale (North Yorkshire), three rare 'witch posts' within the Museum collection, and the recently-classified witch marks adorning caves at Creswell Crags (Derbyshire) and open these out into wider discussions around gender and class politics, and alternatives narratives of women.

Speakers and facilitators include:

  • Dr Clare Almond, resident museum witch
  • Rosie Goodwin, Events and Marketing Coordinator at Ryedale Folk Museum
  • Rebecca Morris-Buck, Communications Manager at Creswell Heritage Trust Prof.
  • Jim Sharpe, Professor Emeritus at the University of York
  • Sarah Winter, Education Officer at Ryedale Folk Museum

The day will run10.30am - 2.15pm, with arrival and refreshments from 10am. Delegates are welcome to explore the rest of the Museum at the end of the day. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided, including a vegetarian option. Please email the Museum with any special dietary requirements at

Ryedale is in a rural context. If you are coming by car, then delegates can park for free in the pub car park, next door to the Museum. A parking permit can be collected from the Museum reception to place on the dashboard. If you are planning on travelling by train, we can arrange a lift / car share from York to Ryedale, just let us know.