Metal cramp ring, English, 1308-1558

1308-1558 in England

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

Metal cramp ring, used to ward off cramp and epilepsy, possibly dated between 1308 and 1558

Cramp rings were part of a practice that occurred in England, beginning in the reign of Edward III (from 1308) and ending during Mary Tudor’s reign in 1558. The monarch would bless rings by touching them and in so doing would administer the ‘royal touch’, which was believed to have the power to heal. These rings were typically made of gold and silver and sometimes featured a symbol or even a motto.

The rings were given out every Good Friday at the altar of the Chapel Royal in the Tower of London. They were said to ward off cramp and epilepsy and after the practice was abolished under Elizabeth I, people began to make their own rings out of coins.


Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
iron and metal
overall: 7 mm x 25 mm, 0.006 kg
cramp ring