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Carmina Gadelica, Volume 2, by Alexander Carmicheal, [1900], at


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THE teeth of ancient human skeletons found in stone coffins and other enclosures, and without enclosures, are usually good and complete. This is in marked contrast to the teeth of modern human remains, which are generally much impaired if not wholly absent. But there must have been toothache and even artificial teeth in ancient times, as indicated by the mummies in Egypt and the toothache charms and toothache wells in the Highlands. One toothache charm and one toothache well must suffice to illustrate this. The toothache well is in the island of North Uist. It is situated 195 feet above the sea, at the foot of a hill 757 feet high, and nearly three miles in the moorland from the nearest townland.

The place is called 'Cuidh-airidh,' shieling fold, while the well is variously known as 'Tobar Chuidh-airidh,' p. 11 well of the shieling fold, 'Tobar an deididh,' well of the toothache, 'Tobar na cnoidh,' well of the worm, and 'Tobar cnuimh fhiacail,' well of the tooth worm, from a belief that toothache is caused by a worm in the tooth.

The general name of the well is 'Tobar Chuidh-airidh,' well of the shieling fold, to distinguish it from other healing wells throughout the Isles. The pilgrim suffering from toothache must not speak, nor eat, nor drink, after beginning the pilgrimage till after three draughts of the well of Cuidh-airidh are drunk in name of God, and in name of Christ, and in name of Spirit.

Some persons profess to derive no relief, some profess to derive partial relief, and some profess to derive complete relief from toothache after drinking the water of the well of Cuidh-airidh.



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OB a chuir Bride bhoidheach
Romh ordag Mathar De,
Air mhir, air lion, air chorcraich,
Air chnoidh, air ghoimh, air dheud.

A chnoidh a rinn domh deistinn,
Air deudach mo chinn,
Ifrinn teann da m’ dheud,
Deud ifrinn da mo theinn.

  *       *       *       *
Deud ifrinn da mo theann;
Am fad ’s is maireann mi-fein
Gu mair mo dheud am cheann.

Air mhir, air chir, air chnodaich.
Air mhuir, air chuan, air chorsa.
Air li, air lionn, air liogradh.


THE incantation put by lovely Bride
Before the thumb of the Mother of God,
On lint, on wort, on hemp,
For worm, for venom, for teeth.

The worm that tortured me,
In the teeth of my head,
Hell hard by my teeth,
The teeth of hell distressing me.

  *       *       *       *
The teeth of hell close to me;
As long as I myself shall last
May my teeth last in my head.

On lint, on comb, on agony.
On sea, on ocean, on coast.
On water, on lakes, on marshes.



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