Hagstone in the collection of the Clitheroe Castle Museum
Wikimedia Commons

Hagstones, also known as adder stones or witch stones, are pebbles pierced by a naturally occurring hole.[1] They are believed by some to be a protection against witchcraft, and an effective treatment for diseases caused by spellsVerbal charm to be spoken or chanted, sometimes a single magic word such as Abracadabra or the Renervate encountered in the fictional Harry Potter series of books. or the evil eye, and in particular hag-riding, a phenomenon now known as sleep paralysisDemon in male form that seeks to have sexual intercourse with a sleeping woman..[2] Some believed that a hagstone only became effective once a cord had been threaded through the hole to hang it by.[3]

The occultist Aleister Crowley, dubbed “the wickedest man in the world” following the publication of his book Diary of a Drug Fiend in 1922,[4] spent his final years in the seaside town of Hastings.[5] He is alleged to have cursed the town’s inhabitants, compelling any who left it to return. The only means of a lasting escape was to always carry a hagstone taken from the beach at Hastings.[6]



Birch, D. “Crowley, Aleister (1875–1947) Occultist and Writer.” Oxford Companion to English Literature, Online, Oxford University Press, 2009, https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/acref/9780192806871.001.0001/acref-9780192806871-e-1921.
Decker, Ronald. “Crowley, Aleister [Formerly Edward Alexander] (1875–1947).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online, Oxford University Press, 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/37329.
Hewitt, Phil. “Investigating the Curse Cast upon Hastings.” SussexWorld, 5 Nov. 2021, https://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/arts-and-culture/art/investigating-the-curse-cast-upon-hastings-3442774.
Roud, Steve. The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland. Ebook, Penguin, 2003.
Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud. “Hag-Riding.” Dictionary of English Folklore, Online, Oxford University Press, 2003, https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198607663.001.0001/acref-9780198607663-e-454.
Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud. “Holed Stones.” Dictionary of English Folklore, Online, Oxford University Press, 2003, https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780198607663.001.0001/acref-9780198607663-e-509.