Human ankle bone carried to cure rheumatism, Suffolk, England, 1880-1916
The growing influence of biomedicine in the 1800s did not necessarily replace established forms of treatment based on belief and superstition. What could be referred to as folk medicine – customs that often went back generations – continued to be practised. For example, carrying around a piece of ankle bone was believed to be a cure for rheumatism (aches and pains in the joints), transferring the pain from the person to the stone. The piece of flint was a gift in 1916 from Edward Lovett (1852-1933), a collector of British amulets and charms. It is pictured here with two other bones used as a ‘cure’ for aching joints, (A79937 and A79960).
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Glossary: human remains
term created as part of the NMSI human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human hair'
The very hard and dense connective tissues that join to form the skeleton. Made of collagen fibres and bone salts.