"Shell rather depressed, and near]y globular, of a pale yellowish-white, with spiral bands of a dark chocolate-brown, which are not always joined together, giving the shell a speckled or streaky appearance; whorls five or five and a half; mouth pink and rather large. Varieties nearly white and also others with the bands of a chestnut colour, and scarcely to be distinguished.
Helix pomatia is the largest of our land snails, being about one and three quarters inches in breadth and length, and is found in Kent, Surrey, Gloucestershire, and other southern counties; and a specimen was met with some time since in a lane near Exmouth, which I believe to be a new locality for it. Some curious reversed specimens are occasionally found in France, and one variety particularly struck me, which was exhibited in the Museum at the Jardin des Plantes, in Paris. It was something the shape of a Buccinum, the whorls rounded and swollen, and six in number. A beautiful white variety is also found, but rarely, in the environs of Clermont. It is supposed by some to have been originally introduced into England by Sir Kenelm Digby, as food or medicine for his wife, who was suffering from consumption; others say that the Romans introduced it; but Dr. Jeffreys believes it to be indigenous, and observes (in his 'British Conchology') that it is not found in many parts of England and Wales where the Romans built cities or had important military stations.
Archaeologists often find snail-shells in great abundance, however, in excavating on the sites of Roman stations, and at Lymne, in Kent (Portus Lemanis), Mr. Wright has seen them dug up in masses almost as large as ordinary buckets, and completely embedded together; * and I have seen in the Museum at Shrewsbury, the shells of Helix aspersa, with those of Fusus antiquus, Buccinum undatum, Cardium echinatum, and of the oyster, which had all been found at Wroxeter. In France, also, empty shells of the Vine snail, Helix po-matia have been met with amongst the ruins of Roman villas, in the neighbourhood of Auch, Agen, and in Provence; and in the Danish "kjokkenmoddings," Helix nemoralis has been found in small quantities.
As a medicine, snails were recommended for other diseases besides consumption, and Helix aspersa, the common garden snail, was generally used.
In a quaint old book, entitled 'A Rich Storehouse or Treasurie for the Diseased, wherein are many approved medicines for divers and sundrie diseases which have longe been hidden, and not come to light before this time; first set forth for the benefit of the poorer sorts of people that are not of abilitie to goe to the Physicians,' by Master Ralph Blower, we find : - "Snales which bee in shells, beat together with bay salt and mallowes, and laid to the bottomes of your feet, and to the wristes of your hands, before the fit commeth, appeaseth the ague". Again: - "Take twenty garden snails and beat them (shelles and all) in a mortar, until you perceive them to be come to a salue; then spread a little thereof upon a linnen cloath, and lay it to the place grieued, and when one plaister is dry, then take that of, and put on another, and it will both heale the sore place and draw it". For corns, he recommends "blacke sope and similes, of each a like quantitie, stampe them togither, and make plaister thereof, and spread it upon a piece of fine linnen cloth, or else upon a piece of white leather, and lay it upon the corne, and it will take it cleane away within seven dayes space".
* 'The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon'.