The Hidden Hexafoils: The Tasmanian Magic Project


You can learn more by contacting Dr Ian Evan via Facebook at


The Project has been established to find and record evidence of the material culture of magic in the State during the nineteenth century.

Magic left no contemporary documentary record but its role in the lives of Tasmanians is evident in the evil-averting (apotropaic) marks on their houses and other structures and in objects concealed in buildings. Concealed objects including shoes and garments have been found in houses and other buildings in many locations throughout Tasmania.

Apotropaic marks have been found at Shene, Pontville, at Woodbury, Antill Ponds, at Redlands, Plenty, in the Courthouse at Richmond, at the former Rose and Crown Inn at Lewisham, at Dysart and Lonsdale at Kempton, and at Narynna, Battery Point, Hobart.

Marks found to date include hexafoils, merels, a consecration cross, concentric circles and burn marks. Numerous caches of concealed shoes and other objects have been found throughout Tasmania. The most notable discovery, that of 39 concealed shoes and a variety of other objects, occurred at Woodbury, north of Oatlands.

The use of magic appears to have been an aspect of cultural practices brought from England by settlers, convicts, the military, and members of the Colonial administration. The fear of attacks by escaped convicts, bushrangers and Indigenous Australians may have played a part in the use of protective magic.

The Project’s survey of Tasmania is expected to produce results that will be applicable Australia-wide and of international significance. Several international scholars with expertise in this field have expressed their support for the Tasmanian Magic Project. These include Professor Ronald Hutton of the University of Bristol and Professor Owen Davies of the University of Hertfordshire. The Project has the endorsement of the Government of Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Magic Project is the first of its kind in the world and will provide a template for similar surveys both in Australia and overseas. The Project is open to participation and/or affiliation with University schools and departments. Places will be available for senior students in history, archaeology, architecture or anthropology.

The Project will be based near Oatlands in the Midlands and will carry out a survey of historic houses and associated outbuildings in areas between Hobart and Launceston. Teams of researchers will visit houses by arrangement with their owners. Houses and outbuildings will be carefully examined and any identified magic marks will be photographed and recorded.