1038 – Moles’ feet

Physical description:
Set of moles' feet - originally 20 but two lost in 2004 flood.
Museum classification:
Spells & Charms
Size:
15 x 10 x 5 mm each
Information:

Scarborough Museum has a number of moles' feet: - one from Paris (1912) carried as a charm against cramp; one from North Carolina (1924) carried for good luck; one from Sussex (1911) carried in a little red bag against cramp; one from Norfolk (1911) carried as a charm against toothache (information provided by Tabitha Cadbury - see her report 'The Clarke Collection of Charms and Amulets' in the museum library.)
During the English witch hunts, a suspected witch, Cecily Arnold, was 'searched by honest wives who between her kerchief and her hat found wrapped in a linen cloth swine's dung, the herb chervil, dill, red fennel and St John's wort, the right hand or forefoot of a mouldwarp [mole]". ('A Memorial of Certain Most Notorious Witches'). And the Scottish witchcraft suspect John Fian carried moles' feet in his purse, 'given to him by Satan, for this cause, that so long as he had them upon him, he should never want silver". (Trial record in 'Criminal Trials in Scotland' by Robert Pitcairn).
The Cornish researcher William Henry Paynter recorded that bags of moles' feet were worn by children to ease teething (see 'The Cornish Witch-Finder' edited by Jason Semmens).
The Horniman Museum has four mole's feet collected by Edward Lovett in East Sussex, where they were regarded as a charm against cramp.
The Horniman Museum also has some moorhens' feet used as charms against cramp, and a carved wooden pigeon's foot used for the same purpose.

"...a mole's paw...mentioned already mentioned by Pliny as an amulet.  To be effective, the paw must be cut off the living mole, who is then allowed to run away.  The paw is usually set on a silver mount and worn as a brooch, but an old man in Wheaton Aston in Staffordshire was known to have kept his in his pocket.  It protected him all his life against toothache." Sheila Paine, Amulets, A world of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic page 109.

Related to document 7542.

Resource:
Object
Materials:
Organic

Scarborough Museum has a number of moles' feet: - one from Paris (1912) carried as a charm against cramp; one from North Carolina (1924) carried for good luck; one from Sussex (1911) carried in a little red bag against cramp; one from Norfolk (1911) carried as a charm against toothache (information provided by Tabitha Cadbury - see her report 'The Clarke Collection of Charms and Amulets' in the museum library.)
During the English witch hunts, a suspected witch, Cecily Arnold, was 'searched by honest wives who between her kerchief and her hat found wrapped in a linen cloth swine's dung, the herb chervil, dill, red fennel and St John's wort, the right hand or forefoot of a mouldwarp [mole]". ('A Memorial of Certain Most Notorious Witches'). And the Scottish witchcraft suspect John Fian carried moles' feet in his purse, 'given to him by Satan, for this cause, that so long as he had them upon him, he should never want silver". (Trial record in 'Criminal Trials in Scotland' by Robert Pitcairn).
The Cornish researcher William Henry Paynter recorded that bags of moles' feet were worn by children to ease teething (see 'The Cornish Witch-Finder' edited by Jason Semmens).
The Horniman Museum has four mole's feet collected by Edward Lovett in East Sussex, where they were regarded as a charm against cramp.
The Horniman Museum also has some moorhens' feet used as charms against cramp, and a carved wooden pigeon's foot used for the same purpose.

"...a mole's paw...mentioned already mentioned by Pliny as an amulet.  To be effective, the paw must be cut off the living mole, who is then allowed to run away.  The paw is usually set on a silver mount and worn as a brooch, but an old man in Wheaton Aston in Staffordshire was known to have kept his in his pocket.  It protected him all his life against toothache." Sheila Paine, Amulets, A world of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic page 109.

Related to document 7542.