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

Made:
1890-1910 in Downham Market
maker:
Unknown
Left hand side - A79966, Mole's foot amulet, carried loose as a cure for cramp and toothache, from Downham, Norfolk,

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Left hand side - A79966, Mole's foot amulet, carried loose as a cure for cramp and toothache, from Downham, Norfolk,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

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

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

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

Mole's foot amulet, worn loose as a cure against cramp and toothache, from Downham, Norfolk, October 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).

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A79964
Materials:
bone, hair and skin
type:
mole foot amulets
taxonomy:
  • animal remains
  • organ - animal material
credit:
Lovett collection