Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England
This three-volume work, published in 1864–6, was edited by Thomas Oswald Cockayne (1807–73), a Cambridge graduate, much-published early member of the London Philological Society, and teacher of the philologists Walter Skeat and Henry Sweet. It is a collection of writings from pre-Conquest Britain on plants, medicine and the heavens, mostly in Old English with accompanying modern English translations. The preface of Volume 2 outlines evidence for early medieval British material culture, particularly foodstuffs, drink, fabrics and metals, and argues against dismissing the Anglo-Saxons and their contemporaries as 'primitive'. The Old English text in this volume is taken from a tenth-century manuscript in the Royal Collection, which Cockayne suggests may have belonged to the Abbot of Glastonbury. It is a careful and thorough compilation of remedies for conditions ranging from toothache to complications of pregnancy, and digestive problems to mental illness, and reveals the influence of Greek medical learning in the Anglo-Saxon world.