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Soft pitted grey stone carried to protect against toothache, South Devon, England, 1871-1910

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, this pitted grey stone on the right was believed to cure toothache. It was hoped that the pain would be transferred from the person to the stone. The stone was a gift to the Wellcome collections in 1916 from Edward Lovett (1852-1933), a collector of British amulets and charms. It is pictured here with four other amulets against toothache: two large animal teeth (A132477 and A132541), a stone (A132474) and a triple hazelnut (A132536).

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    Glossary: toothache

    Pain in a tooth or in the teeth

    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).