Back to: Nature online

Fossil Folklore

 Ammonites | Belemnites | Bivalves | Fish Teeth | Shark Teeth | Echinoids | Crinoids
What are fossils? Fossil types


Introductionred arrowNorthern Englandred arrowSouthern Englandred arrowWorld folklore 1red arrowWorld folklore 2red arrowWorld folklore 3red arrowWorld folklore 4red arrowWhat are ammonites?red arrowReferences and links


Highland cow

World Folklore 4

In some parts of the Western Isles, ammonites are known as crampstones and were once used medicinally. As Martin in his Description of the Western Island of Scotland (1703) remarked: 'These stones are by the Natives called Crampstones because as they say they cure the Cramp in Cows, by washing the part affected with water in which this stone has been steep'd for some Hours'.

Ammonites were also used for medicinal purposes in Germany, again to treat farm animals. Farmers from the Harz Mountains used 'a fossile shaped like a Ram's Horn call'd Drake (Dragon) - stone...for when the Cows lose their milk, or void Blood in stead of it, they put these Stones into a Milk-pail, and by that means expect a due quantity of Milk from these Cows again' (Georg Henning Behrens 1703 quoted in Nelson 1968).

In south-eastern Spain, depictions of ammonites have been found in Mesolithic rock art.

New Guinea
Oakley (1978) related that during a 1964 British Museum expedition to the Upper Sepik river, New Guinea, Bryan Cranstone found that members of the Tifalmin tribe using ammonites as charms to help with hunting and gardening.