For centuries, popular belief held that a skin condition known as 'the king's evil' could be cured by a touch from the monarch. Dr Helen Bynum explores the history of this phenomenon and how its practice fitted with scientific thought during the same period.
The mystery object revealed at the event was a gold touchpiece, given to an individual with scrofula who attended a 'healing by touch' ceremony held by Queen Anne (reigned 1701–1714). The image above shows both sides of the touchpiece, which was pierced so it could be worn around the neck on a ribbon.
See the object
The touchpiece is from the Wellcome Collection at the Science Museum, reference A215230.
This event was recorded live at Wellcome Collection on 22 February 2012.