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Jewellery and medicine

Toadstones were formerly used as jewellery, not only for their aesthetic qualities but also because they were believed to counteract poison and be efficacious against epilepsy.

It was thought that a toadstone set in an open ring would give off heat to the finger on which it was worn if the presence of poison were detected (Kunz 1917).

Kennedy (1976) suggested that toadstones were also believed to change colour if a poison was present. The use of toadstones against all kinds of poisons is also mentioned by Lupton (1627), who noted that: 'A Tode stone (called Crapaudina) touching any part be venomed, hurte or stung with Ratte, Spider, Waspe or any other venomous Beasts, ceases the paine or swelling thereof'.

The early literature also records medicinal uses for toadstones as cures for sores (Jonstonus 1657), fever (Leonardus 1750), bowel problems (Topsell 1658) and labour pains (Bacon 1627).

'True' toadstones comprising Lepidotes teeth were sometimes substituted in Scotland by brown-coloured pebbles, which, like Lepidotes teeth, were often set in rings.