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Sinéad Spearing

Author | Historian

Sinead is an author and historian specialising in Old English folk-remedies and associated beliefs. She is the author of Old English Medical Remedies and A History of Women in Medicine. Her novel Cunning Woman is due for release later this year. 

Sinead is a medical historian specialising in old English folk remedies and associated beliefs.




Old English Medical Remedies, published by Pen and Sword Books. 


In ninth-century England, Bishop Bald is dabbling with magic. By collecting folk remedies from pagan women, he risks his reputation. Yet posterity has been kind, as from the pages of Bald’s book a remedy has been found that cures the superbug MRSA where modern antibiotics have failed.
Within a few months of this discovery, a whole new area of medical research called Ancientbiotics has been created to discover further applications for these remedies. Yet, what will science make of the elves, hags and nightwalkers which also stalk the pages of Bald’s book and its companion piece Lacnunga, urging prescriptions of a very different, unsettling nature?
In these works, cures for the “moon mad” and hysteria are interspersed with directives to drink sheep’s dung and jump across dead men’s graves. Old English Medical Remedies explores the herbal efficacy of these ancient remedies while evaluating the supernatural, magical elements, and suggests these provide a powerful psychological narrative revealing an approach to healthcare far more sophisticated than hitherto believed. All the while, the voices of the wise women who created and used these remedies are brought to life, after centuries of suppression by the Church, in this fascinating read.

A History of Women in Medicine, published by Pen and Sword Books. 


'Witch' is a powerful word with humble origins. Once used to describe an ancient British tribe known for its unique class of female physicians and priestesses, it grew into something grotesque, diabolical and dangerous. A History of Women in Medicine: From Physicians to Witches? reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices and subsequent demonisation as witches. Originally held in high esteem in their communities, these women used herbs and ancient psychological processes to relieve the suffering of their patients. Often travelling long distances, moving from village to village, their medical and spiritual knowledge blended the boundaries between physician and priest. These ancient healers were the antithesis of the witch figure of today; instead they were knowledgeable therapists commanding respect, gratitude and high social status. In this pioneering work, Sinead Spearing draws on current archeological evidence, literature, folklore, case studies and original religious documentation to bring to life these forgotten healers. By doing so she exposes the elaborate conspiracy conceived by the Church to corrupt them in the eyes of the world. Turning these women from benevolent therapists into the embodiment of evil required a fabricated theology to ensure those who collected medicinal herbs or practiced healing, would be viewed by society as dealing with the devil. From this diabolical association, female healers could then be labeled witches and be justly tortured and tried in the ensuing hysteria known today as the European witch craze.


Meet Sinéad 

Sinéad Spearing is a writer and medical historian specialising in Old English folk-remedies and associated beliefs. She trained as a professional classical musician and music teacher before returning to university to study psychology and philosophy. Her books Old English Medical Remedies and A History of Women in Medicine emerged from her PhD and are based on church documents compiled by Bishop Bald of Winchester. Bishop Bald's manuscripts focused upon the indigenous healing practices and remedies of Anglo-Saxon England during a time when women attended the local communities with their herbal knowledge. Her novel Cunning Woman will tell the story of these women healers and midwives who became wrongly caught up in the turmoil of the witch trials. Sinéad's work in this area has seen her invited to talk at The British Society of Pharmacology, The Old Operating Theatre Museum London with acclaimed reviews from Professor Duffin of The Natural History Museum. She has also written articles for PsychTalk of The British Psychological Society and Watkin's Magazine amoung others. The efficacy of these healing women's remedies has recently been verified by the AncientBiotics team at Nottingham University when they discovered a remedy from Bishop Bald's manuscript cures MRSA where our modern antibiotics fail. 


Miss Honeybug

What a wonderful book this was! I enjoy my fiction but I also crave for well documented books filled with interesting facts, research and in depth analysis. This is one of those books that left me captivated by the subject and wanting to know more about it.

Professor Duffin.

The Natural History Museum, London

Intelligently and clearly written, with the support of relevant quotes from a range of Anglo-Saxon texts... the eleven chapters of the book introduce the reader to a fascinating world where the supernatural is commonplace, and the timing of the harvest of appropriate therapeutic herbs,  sympathetic magic, ritual proclamations, transference, numerology, amulets, charms and talismans, were all used in the treatment of the sick.


I was intrigued by the book the moment I spotted it and knew I had to read it and I am so pleased that I got the chance to. It is a remarkable read, I found it to be very hard-hitting and yet sensitive to those women it tells the stories of, it is a book that should be read by everyone, not just women who like me are interested in women’s history and celebrating how wonderful these women were but by all. I can guarantee there will be something within these pages that will intrigue everyone.

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