MUMMIFIED cats and rats feature in a new exhibition in Huntingdon, highlighting Cambridgeshire’s dark past and the role it played in the country’s only major witch hunt.

MUMMIFIED cats and rats feature in a new exhibition in Huntingdon, highlighting Cambridgeshire's dark past and the role it played in the country's only major witch hunt.

Until the end of October the Cromwell Museum will be hosting a touring exhibition entitled The East Anglian Witch Hunt 1645-47.

With a broomstick, pointed hat and black cat, the witch is one of the most iconic characters from fairy-tale, folklore and fiction.

Yet behind this image lies a story of persecution, one that led to the execution of thousands of people across Europe between 1500 and 1800.

One of England's major witch hunts took place in East Anglia, including in parts of Cambridgeshire, between 1645 and 1647.

Curator John Goldsmith explained: "At the time individuals who were seen as being different were picked out as witches because people were looking for somebody to blame for the upheaval of the civil war. These individuals were then put through the most appalling trials."

Witch hunters devised a number of ways to get confessions from people, including sleep deprivation and submerging them in water. An estimated 230 people were executed during the East Anglian witch hunts.

The new exhibition has been produced by Epping Forest Museum and Renaissance in the Regions to shed more light on the hunts. It includes a pamphlet published in the 1640s called the Witches of Huntingdon, detailing hunts in Keyston, Molesworth and Little Catworth. Also on display will be witches' charms loaned by the Norris Museum in St Ives. These charms include mummified cats and rats that were put in houses to keep witches away.

INFORMATION: Cromwell Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm.