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used in Skye, Inner Hebrides

Postcard of Charmstone.
© National Museums Scotland


This stone spindle whorl was used in Skye in the Inner Hebrides as a charm. Such stones are known as clachan nathrach, or 'adderstones', and were used to cure snakebites in animals and humans, and other illnesses in cattle.

Though the form suggests the function of spindle whorl, its subsequent use and naming seem to suggest ignorance of the former use. Instead it was considered, according to tradition, to have been used by an adder crawling through the stone to slough off its skin.

The stone is from the collection of Dr G. F. Black.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-103-781-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.NO 102
Date: 18th - 19th century
18th or 19th century
Material: Stone
Dimensions: 0.50" W x 1.15" D
What: Charm
Subject: Jewellery: charms, amulets (NMAS Classification)
Who: Dr G. F. Black
Where: Scotland, Inverness-shire, Skye
Description: Stone whorl called an "adder stone", from Skye, 18th or 19th century
  • Black, G. F., 'Scottish charms and amulets' in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 27 (1892-3), pp 468-74 
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