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Double-ended bronze pestle, United Kingdom, 1601-1815

A pestle was used with a mortar to grind and crush ingredients for drug preparations – often in the form of powders, ointments or solutions. This particular example is said to have come from the dispensary of HMS Victory, Horatio Nelson’s (1758–1805) flagship. During voyages, this pestle would have been kept in the small lockable dispensary that was situated next to the surgeon’s cabin. HMS Victory is best known for her role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 – the battle that claimed Nelson’s life. The pestle is pictured here with a brass mortar (A604334).

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Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: pestle

An elongated piece of hard material usually made of stone. A pestle is used for grinding pigments, herbs, spices or other materials in a mortar.