Ever wanted to petrify your little teddy bear? Well, it turns out many people do and it is possible (well - sort of). A petrifying well is a well or other body of water that gives objects a stone-like appearance with the high mineral content of the water. This is the same process that creates the stalagmites and stalactites in caves.

There are petrifying wells all around the world and one can likely do it in many of the caves around the world. But the most famous and one with a particularly interesting past is located in the middle of England - it is also developed as a tourist attraction.


The Haunted Process Of Petrification

Once upon a time in the bad old days (like in Monty Python's Holy Grail Witch scene), this process was thought to be the result of magic or witchcraft. But of course like everything in this world, there is no fun and exciting witchcraft in the real world, just a load of disappointingly boring scientific explanations (although this process is still kinda cool).

Petrification is due to the process of evaporation and deposition from waters with unusually high mineral content. To petrify one's teddy bear, one will normally need to place it into the well for a period of a few months or years until it has sufficiently acquired a stony exterior.

Some of the best examples of petrifying wells in England and Ireland are:

Mother Shipton's Cave: In  Knaresborough, England

Matlock  Bath: In Derbyshire, England

Howth Head: In Ireland

Related: Mayan Calendar Mysteries: Why Would The World Just End?

The Witch of Mother Shipton's Cave

Mother Shipton's Cave is named after Mother Shipton who was said to have been a witch and an oracle. She predicted doomsday horrors and disasters that were to befall the Tudor monarchy of England. She possessed the witchy ability to turn things into stone. How much more proof does one need?

Lived: From Around 1488–1561

Appearance: An Account Over A Hundred Years After Her Death Claims She Was Hideously Ugly

Her real name was allegedly Ursula Southhell (Southhell?... suppose that's a good name for a witch). She was said to have been born in a cave in the forests of Knaresborough and was able to bewitch a well that turned objects into stone. It seems she was much luckier than the unfortunate "witches" at Salem which meant their untimely end in the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

Name: Real Name Allegedly Ursula Southhell

Seeking to drum up the mystery the Mother Shipton Cave website of the cave states:

"Mother Shipton is England's most famous Prophetess. She foretold the fates of several rulers within and just after her lifetime, as well as the invention of iron ships, the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada."

She is said to have proclaimed the world would end in 1881 but turns out the Mayans knew better and the world actually ended back in 2012 - although NASA seems to think otherwise.

She has left quite a legacy and there are a number of pubs bearing her name and fortune-tellers using her effigy and statues. Not to mention a moth with something resembling a hag's face was even named after her (again according to Atlas Obscura).

But now the mystery of how she performed one of her most baffling acts of witchcraft has been solved. The well near to where she lived was able to petrify objects is the petrifying well where many toys are being turned into stone right now.

The cave and petrifying well have been something of an attraction ever since 1630. The cave's website claims it is the oldest visitor attraction in England being first recorded in the king's antiquary in 1538 and has been visited by millions since 1630. But they seem to not know England all that well as the old Roman baths at Bath are much older.

Related: Do The Baths Of England Live Up To The Hype? Here's What To Know

Visiting Mother Shipton's Cave Today

Today visitors to Mother Shipton’s Cave and Petrifying Well are greeted with a gift shop, a wishing well, a picnic area, and a load of stuff (mostly kid's toys) dangling and busy being turned into stone.

Duration: At Mother Shipton's Cave It Takes Around 3 to 5 Months For a Small Teddy Bear

Seasonal Opening Hours:

As of the time of writing they are currently closed until weekends in March.

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School Holidays: 9:30 am-5.30 pm (last admission 4 pm)

Term Time weekdays: 10 am-4:30 pm (last admission 3 pm)

Term Time Weekends: 10 am-5.30 pm (last admission 4 pm)

Term Time: £26 ($35) per car or £9 ($11) per pedestrian weekdays, £31 ($42) per car or £11 ($13) per pedestrian weekend

While in this part of England, continue the witch theme tour with a comedy-horror tour on the Necrobus in nearby York.

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Next: What Really Transpired During The Salem Witch Trials, And The Stories Of Those Accused