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A belief reported in England and Scotland from the mid-19th century onwards was that it is unwise to burn bones, usually with the reason that your own bones will ache if you do so, and a much earlier notion links burnt bones with toothache (Gospelles of Dystaues (1507), part 2, p. xiii, quoted in Opie and Tatem, 1989: 15). Aubrey (1686: 165) reported that women wear a tooth taken from a skull to prevent toothache, and that ‘cunning alewives putt the ashes of … bones in their Ale to make it intoxicating. Dr. Goddard bought bones of the Sextons to make his drops with. Some make a playster for the Gowte with the earth or musilage newly scraped from the shin-bone.’ Many other recorded cures mention the use of skulls.

See also BLADE-BONE, WISHBONE, SKULL, LUCKY BONE, CRAMP BONE.

Opie and Tatem, 1989: 35.


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