Selection of segmented pomanders.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
These pomanders were used to carry fragrant scented petals and herbs. Some of the segments are inscribed with the name of the contents; rosen, ruten, moscat, canel and rosmarin. It was thought that these would freshen the air and thus protect their owner from the Plague which swept acros the world from the 1320s onwards. It was not until the 19th century that it became widely accepted that diseases were caused by microorganisms rather than miasmas, foul-smelling airs caused by decaying matter.