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Mole's foot amulet, Norfolk, England, 1890-1910

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 a mole’s forefoot in a pocket as an amulet to prevent cramp is a medical tradition specific to the East Anglian region of England. The feet were either hacked off a mole or bought from a shop. As an amulet against toothache, moles’ feet have a much longer and wider tradition, being recommended by the Roman writer Pliny in the first century CE. The mole foot was purchased in 1930 from Edward Lovett’s (1852-1933) collection of British amulets and charms. It is shown here with a similar example (A79966).

Object number:

A79964

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    Glossary: mole foot

    No description.

    Glossary: toothache

    Pain in a tooth or in the teeth

    Glossary: cramp

    No description.

    Glossary: amulet

    Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.

    Glossary: biomedicine

    The name given to the medical practice that is based on the sciences of the body, such as physiology (the functioning of the body).