Owlish Notions

Huntcliff

We may remember, too, that Cleveland, remote from great thoroughfares, was a nursery of superstitions long after the owlish notions died out from other places. Had your grand-mother been born here she would have been able to tell you that to wear a ring cut from old, long-buried coffin-lead, would cure the cramp; that the water from the leaden roof of a church, sprinkled on the skin, was a specific for sundry diseases— most efficacious if taken from over the chancel.

Biscuits baked on Good Friday would keep good all the year, and a person ill with flux had only to swallow one grated in milk, or brandy-and-water, and recovery was certain. Clothes hung out to dry on Good Friday would, when taken down, be found spotted with blood. To fling the shirt or shift of a sick person into a spring, was a sure way to foreknow the issue of the malady: if it floated—life; if it sank—death. And when the patient was convalescent, a small piece was torn from the garment and hung on the bushes near the spring; and springs thus venerated were called Rag-wells.

Walter White. A Month in Yorkshire. 1858

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