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Abstract:

The medicinal uses of the snakestone bead within the British Isles are surveyed and considered for the first time. The snakestone beads of the British Isles – often annular beads formed of glass or paste, but also other items similar in form – were employed against a variety of ailments, including several of the most deadly childhood diseases of the nineteenth century: teething, whooping cough and ague. In addition, they were used in the treatment of livestock and as a remedy for eye diseases. The eighteenth century saw the snakestone beads conflated with the hag-stone and employed as an amulet against witches and evil spirits.

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