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Old English Medical Remedies (Hardback)

Mandrake, Wormwood and Raven's Eye

More History Social History

By Sinéad Spearing
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 172
ISBN: 9781526711700
Published: 5th February 2018

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In 9th century England Bishop Ælfheah the Bald is dabbling with magic. By collecting folk remedies from pagan women he risks his reputation. Yet posterity has been kind, as from the pages of Bald’s book a remedy has been found that cures the superbug MRSA where modern antibiotics have failed. Within a few months of this discovery a whole new area of medical research called Ancientbiotics has been created to discover further applications for these remedies.

Yet, what will science make of the elves, hags and nightwalkers which also stalk the pages of Bald's book and its companion piece Lacnunga, urging prescriptions of a very different, unsettling nature. Cures for the 'moon mad' and hysteria are interspersed with directives to drink sheep’s dung and jump across dead men’s graves.

Old English Medical Remedies explores the herbal efficacy of these ancient remedies whilst evaluating the supernatural, magical elements and suggests these provide a powerful psychological narrative revealing an approach to healthcare far more sophisticated than hitherto believed. All the while, the voices of the wise women who created and used these remedies are brought to life, after centuries of demonisation by the Church.

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About Sinéad Spearing

Sinéad Spearing is a psychological historian specialising in the research of obscure beliefs. She worked as a professional musician before returning to university to study psychology and philosophy. Following a number of articles published in Journals including those of The British Psychological Society and Mensa, Sinéad began researching the bizarre world of Old English medicine, psychiatry and associated supernatural traditions.

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