By David Robertson
Medical History, Vol.20:3 (1976)
Abstract: Prior to A.D. 1213, the heathen Germanic peoples worshipped many gods and medical practice grew out of religious conceptions. Magical medicine and superstitions from the Old Norse literature are discussed in detail. By the time of Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson, medical practice had become extraordinarily different. Heathen chants gave way to paternosters, and stones to surgical instruments. Cauterization and phlebotomy came into use. Leeches became predominantly persons of catholic education, and the profession of medicine was increasingly the domain of men. Practitioners of heathen medicine had retreated far into the background.