Bàrr a’ chinn
Photograph of sea pinks.
‘Barr a’ chinn’ (top of the head) was a common disease affecting children on Tiree, although not found elsewhere, and was usually caused by a fright. The child would become pale, listless and lose his or her appetite. It was said the condition was caused by the descent of two bones in the roof of the mouth.
There were two cures, physical and herbal. In the physical cure, the healer’s index and middle finger or thumb were pressed against the roof of the mouth, pushing the ‘bones’ back. This is remembered as being quite painful.
The herbal treatment used the plant sea pink, known locally as ‘barr a’ chinn’. This was collected on the day of the treatment, dried by the fire then put into a small cotton or linen bag which was sewn onto the patient’s vest. Both treatments were accompanied by a rhyme.
Colour photograph of sea pinks.
Clump of thrift or sea pink, known locally as bàrr a’ chinn, photographed by Dr John Holliday in 2000. It was used in a traditional cure for a disease affecting children on Tiree, also known as bàrr a’ chinn, which was not found elsewhere. The child would become pale, listless and lose their appetite, usually after a fright. It was believed that the condition was caused by the descent of two bones in the roof of the mouth.