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Cures & Remedies

Cures & Remedies

Dartmoor is a remote area and in times gone by this meant that it was not always possible to gain access to medical treatment when it was needed. Couple this with the fact that many of the moor’s inhabitants were poor folk who simply could not afford the doctors fees. Therefore this meant that a lot of the cures and remedies they used were of the natural kind and could be found growing or living on the moor. Many of these ‘cure-alls’ are centuries old and have been handed down from generation to generation. Some of the more complex potions and lotions would be made and supplied by the local ‘wiseman’ or ‘wisewoman’ whose knowledge of herbs and plants was extensive. These people were at times regarded as witches but usually of the ‘white’ kind.

Cures and remedies tend to be fairly short and so would not warrant individual web pages so they have simply been listed on this one page.


 When an attack is imminent, go to a crossroads at midnight and bury a new lain egg. Repeat this on five successive nights.


 Apply vinegar or the ‘blue bag’ to the sting.


 Take a bucket of clean river water, a pair of shears, a large key and a new table knife. Dip the knife in the water and draw it back upwards, downwards and across the hip three times each way. Then dip the key into the water and repeat the process. Finally dip the shears into the water and shear the hip as if it was covered with wool. Return water water is left into the river and sing;

As this watter goeth to zay (sea),

So flow boneshave away.” 


 Repeat the following charm;

Holy Chicha (teacher?)! Holy Chicha!

This bruise will get well by-and-bye.

Up sun high! Down moon low!

This bruise will be quite well very soon!

In the name of the Father, etc.


To ease a burn or scald the following charm must be said;

Dree (three) angels comed vrom North, East, West,

Wan got vire (fire), wan got ice,

Tha third brot tha Holy Ghost;

Zo, out vire, in vrast (frost)!

In the name of the Father, etc.



Simply ‘wish’ them onto a recently deceased person.


1) Drink the following concoction:

3 tablespoons of blackcurrant jam

1 pint of boiling water

A little lemon juice

Stand for 10 minutes, strain and drink hot.

2) Drink the following concoction;

1 handful of dried elderflowers

1 pint boiling water

1 tsp of sugar

A little lemon juice.

Stand for 10 minutes, strain and drink hot.

CONSUMPTION (Tuberculosis) – see consumption

Collect some May dew from the churchyard early in the morning and drink.


1) Put an acorn in the bed.

2) Go to the churchyard and collect three nails or screws from a coffin then make a ring with them. Carry this in your pocket or place in the bed.

3) Carry a cork in your pocket or place it in the bed.

4) Carry a potato in your pocket. But it firstly must be placed there secretly without you knowing by a member of the opposite sex.


Take a stale Good Friday cross-bun and place in the oven. When dried out grate into a powder. When needed mix with cold water and drink.


Take several large toads and burn them in a vessel, ensuring that they don’t come into contact with any foreign matter. When reduced to ashes pound them in a stone mortar. Place the ashes in a wide  mouthed jar, cork firmly and keep in a dry place. When needed mix one teaspoonful of the ashes with milk and drink for nine mornings whilst the moon is waxing.


  1) If a person suffers from fits or convulsions they must go to the parish church at midnight on the 23rd of June. Here they musty walk through each aisle then crawl three times from north to south and pass under the communion table exactly as the clock strikes twelve.

 2) Visit a church at midnight and cut off three small pieces of lead from three different water spouts and keep as an amulet.


1) Add a dessert spoon of thyme to a pint of boiling water, allow to cool and strain. Rub this into the hair and scalp and leave for half an hour, then wash the hair with a mild shampoo. Repeat this process twice a week for two weeks.


 If a baby suffers from a hernia the parents must pass it three times through a split stem of an ash-tree, the child will then be cured.


1) Carry a nutmeg in your pocket.

2) Take a wine glass full of the following concoction every morning;

1 lemon sliced up, pith and skin

1 pint of boiling water

1oz Epsom salts.

Mix the lemon and Epsom salts with the boiling water and mix thoroughly, drink hot.


Consult a healer who will visit the patient and make a ring or wreath out of rushes. This will then be placed over the affected area of skin. The wreath will then be hung up inside the chimney breast. This process must be repeated on for three consecutive days.


See – Adder


Make a small heart shaped amulet from some lead taken from the frames of church windows.


1) Take a mixture of brimstone and treacle for three mornings, leave for three mornings and then take again for the following three mornings.

2) Take a mixture of wild sage (Salvia nemorosa) steeped in hot water on three consecutive days.


Recite the following charm;

Bone to Bone and vein to vein,

And vein turn to thy rest again

And so shall thine

In the name of the Father, etc.


1) To stem the flow of blood from a cut the following charm should be said:

Jesus waz born in Buthlem (Bethlehem),

Baptised in tha Jardan (Jordan), when

Tha watter wuz wild in tha ‘ood (wood),

Then passen (parson) wuz jist an gude (good),

God spoken and watter stude,

An zo shall now thy blid (blood).

In the name of the Father, etc.Amen.

2) Place a handful of cobwebs over the wound.

3) To stop a nose bleed, firstly catch a toad a roast it until it is a ‘brown, crisp mass’ and then pound it into a fine powder. Inhale the powder up each nostril like snuff. Or to stop bleeding from other parts of the body take the above powder and sew it into a small silk bag. Place the bag over the heart and the blood flow will be staunched.


To remove a thorn apply a snakeskin to the opposite side of the body to where the thorn is. If the thorn was in the front of the finger the skin must be applied to the back. Get it wrong and the thorn will be drawn deeper into the body.


1) To cure thrush in a child, take the head of a live duck and place it in the child’s mouth ensuring the child inhales the duck’s breath. Having done so, the 8th psalm must be read over the child three times a day, three days a week for the following three weeks.

2) Take the child to a fast flowing stream and pick three rushes. Pass each of these in turn through the child’s mouth. and then throw them into the waters. Having done so, the 8th psalm must be read over the child three times a day, three days a week for the following three weeks.

3) Take the child to Lydford church where the clerk would carry the child up the church tower and hold them out over each of the crenulations whilst reciting the Lord’s Prayer.


1) Carry a nutmeg in your pocket.

2) Carry a tooth bitten from a human skull in your pocket.

3) Cut your finger and toe nails and wrap the parings in tissue paper. Take this to an ash tree before sunrise, then make a slit in the bark and insert the tissue parcel.

4) Write the following on a piece of paper and carry with you at all times:

“As Peter sat weeping on a stone our Saviour passed him by and said, ‘Peter, why weepest thou?’ Peter said unto Him, ‘I have got the toothache. Our Saviour replied, ‘Arise and be sound.'”

5) Carry a dead persons tooth in the left waistcoat pocket.


On the night of July’s full moon gather the leaves and flowers of the St. Johns Wort and hang them to dry. When dried crush them to a powder and place in a silken bag. Hang this around your neck from immunity to vapours and mental illness.

WARTS – see warts


1) Carry the child to a sheep fold and let as many sheep breath on it as possible. Then lay the infant on a spot of ground from witch a sheep has just arisen. Continue this practice for a week and the child will be cured – ‘for zartin’.

2) Place a slice of fresh bread into a donkeys mouth and as it eats it  pass the child three times up and under the animals body.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

One comment

  1. Hi Tim,
    I am researching historic local treatments for adder bites on dartmoor. Unfortunately the ‘Adder’ link is not working. please can you send it to me. thank you, guy

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