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Cowslip balls were made by hanging the flower heads from a string and tying the ends. Children would toss them to each other, reciting, as the ball gradually fell to bits:Tissty-tossty, tell me true,Who am I going to be married to?Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor,Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief.

In Lincolnshire, women attempted to throw these balls over a house (presumably having weighted them), which some said was ‘to keep away evil, the devil’; others hung bunches in cowsheds to keep witches out (Sutton, 1997: 105–6).

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