However, throughout the Middle Ages and into the 18th century they were thought to be found in the heads of live toads and were highly prized for their supposed magical powers. In particular, it was believed they could be used as an antidote to poison and were commonly worn about the personal as amuletic rings and pendants.
Loose toadstones were discovered among other gemstones in the Cheapside Hoard, while William Shakespeare referred to them in As You Like It (1599): “Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”
The subject of heated bidding at Reeman Dansie (20% buyer’s premium) in Colchester on March 29 was a 16mm toadstone in a yellow metal mount inscribed verso Tode Stone. Certainly 17th century in style, it was estimated at £100-150, but sold at £4200.