Holy Wells in Historical Context
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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of Pages: 191
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm
Holy wells are an ancient and notable feature of the landscape, and one in which there seems to be a growing interest. However, until now there has been no historical survey of their development. James Rattue examines the archetypal motifs present in the cult of water and traces the development of the holy well in England from its beginnings to its latter-day relevance for the pagan and environmental movements. In discussing the influences which have altered the wells, including the conversion of pagan wells to Christian ones, Rattue draws together many pieces of hitherto neglected evidence - medieval bishops harnessing popular superstitions, a borough fighting an abbey for controlover the water supply, the violent well-rituals of Alnwick, the current revival of interest in pagan ritual - and throughout he relates the phenomenon of the holy well to the broader context of the society around it, enabling itschanging identities and significance to be grasped.