John Sharkey's book is a fascinating compilation of the enormous range of traditional healing practices found in Wales, from pre-history to the present day. Split into three historical periods, each subdivided to reflect different aspects of medicine, it is well-planned, well-researched, and well-written.
This massive historical sweep encompasses material including; the operative techniques used by Roman army surgeons, and their legacy; an enlightening discussion of the healing powers of the Welsh saints; the cultural outlook of the Welsh humanists, and the relation of medicine and law in medieval Wales. From the opening section covering the plagues of the early to late medieval period and then moving on to healing associated with sacred sites, other sections touch on spells and herbs, wizardry and cancer cures.
This is an unusual and welcome addition to the history of Wales and provides us with an insight into the lives of its people. Packed with fascinating detail, it is both an enjoyable read and a scholarly work containing very substantial notes.
Born in Dublin, the writer has lived in Pembrokeshire for over 20 years and published books on Celtic arts, Mythology, Welsh landscape and its' pre-history
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