Historians have speculated that the cottage could have belonged to one of the Pendle witches (think England’s equivalent of Salem).

The cat was found bricked into the wall of a sealed room. It is believed that the unfortunate moggy may have been buried alive to protect those living in the cottage from evil spirits.

Archaeologists brought in to survey the area for building found the cottage under a grass mound.

It is said to have been incredibly well preserved, with artefacts from the building’s later years – including Victorian crockery and a tin bath – found around the site.

Frank Giecco, from NP Archaeology, who unearthed the building, told the BBC that it was “like discovering your own little Pompeii”. He added that it was rare to work with something so well preserved.

Simon Entwistle, a Pendle witches expert, added: “In terms of significance, it’s like discovering Tutankhamen’s tomb.

“Cats feature prominently in folklore about witches. Whoever consigned this cat to such a horrible fate was clearly seeking protection from evil spirits.”

The Pendle witches trial charged 11 people with murder by witchcraft in 1612. Ten were found guilty and hanged.