Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A Texas researcher said "witch bottles" of unknown origin have been washing up on beaches along the state's Coastal Bend.
Jace Tunnell, director of community engagement at Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, has found hundreds of unique and unusual items while combing Texas beaches, and this month brought the latest discovery of a witch bottle.
Witch bottles date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when people who believed themselves to be targeted by curses or spells would fill a bottle with objects including iron nails, fingernail clippings and human hair in an attempt to rid themselves of the dark magic.
"We found about eight of them over the past six or so years. And they have sticks and leaves in them, different types of vegetation," Tunnell told KRIS-TV. "Some of them have goose neck barnacles growing on them so we know they've been out in the Gulf of Mexico for awhile. Apparently, they're supposed to have spells in them."
Tunnell said he has no interest in opening the bottles, and his wife won't even allow them inside the house.
"The theory is that if you open it you could let the spell out, whatever the reason the person had put the spell in there," Tunnell said.
He said the bottles could have come from anywhere in the world.
"The witch bottles don't have any date on them. They don't have any kind of writing, so we don't know exactly where they came from," Tunnell said.
The witch bottles make up only a small fraction of the weird and sometimes creepy objects Tunnell and his team have found on Texas beaches. Their other discoveries include Internet-famous barnacle-encrusted dolls, a fiberglass mermaid statue, a prosthetic leg and an intact safe.