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Notched elder twig amulet, Wales, 1901-1913

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, a folk remedy for warts was to cut a number of notches into an elder tree twig that corresponded to the number of warts one wanted to be rid of. The twig was then thrown away, as if to throw away the warts. (Warts usually disappear naturally after a period of time even without treatment.) The elder twig was bought in 1930 from Edward Lovett’s (1852-1933) collection of British amulets and charms and is pictured with another folk cure for warts. it is shown here with another folk cure for warts (A666080).

Object number:

A79894

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    Glossary: elder twig

    No description.

    Glossary: amulet

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

    Glossary: warts

    Small lumps that appear on the skin. Warts are very common, and can sometimes be caused by a virus.

    Glossary: wood - plant material

    Object consisting only of wood, namely consisting of the material of a branch or a tree. Use for object name rather than material

    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).