In 1935 an observer counted fourteen rags tied to bushes near a well at the village of Llancarfan, Glamorgan, a well which had the reputation of curing erysipelas, and as late as 1947 a woman `crossed in love', placed an effigy, with pins stuck into it, in an Anglesey well. These are startling proofs of the longevity of the cult of the springs, even in Christian communities, even in the age of science. Rooted in paganism, `converted' to Christian usage, condemned by Protestantism, `explained' by folklorists, rationalized by modern education, the cult has survived and wields an influence over the human mind. Holy Wells have been objects of absorbing interest from time immemorial, and this book, reprinted due to high demand as an attractive paperback, provides a reliable collection of material relating to those of Wales culled from a wide range of published, manuscript and oral sources. In the first part of his work the author stresses the unity of the well-cult, and offers an interpretation of the beliefs and rituals that have survived to our times. The second part is an inventory of individual wells listed alphabetically in counties to facilitate reference.
The six maps illustrate the position and main features of the wells, and a select index is also provided. Students will find in this book useful material for interpreting phenomena connected with wells in other lands beyond the boundaries of Wales. It will also be of interest to tourists visiting Wales who chance upon the places mentioned by the author.
Publisher: University of Wales Press