Notched elder twig amulet

1901-1913 in Wales
Notched elder twig amulet (amulet; wood - plant material; elder twig)

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Notched elder twig, amuletic, cure for warts, Lovett collection, from South 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).


Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
overall: 83 mm 13 mm, .002 kg
amulet, wood - plant material and elder twig
Loan, Wellcome Trust (Lovett Collection)