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Holy Wells in Britain: A Guide (Heart of Albion Press, 2008), by Janet Bord


More than twenty years after Janet & Colin Bord's Sacred Waters, which really sparked off the modern interest in holy wells, comes this book, a companion, in the form of a field guide, to Janet's 'Cures and Curses', published in 2006 and which examined the various motifs in the folklore of watery sites. Holy Wells in Britain lays out county-by-county some of the wells which are most rewarding to visit, with details of each and in most cases a photograph, plus a section at the end on source material and further information. Most of the photographs are newly-published, and I was particularly pleased with the aerial shot of Ffynnon Fair at Cefn (p.151), which actually shows how the well itself relates to the chapel - very helpful for someone who's never been there! The huge variety of these ancient sites comes across very well, and Janet conveys a real sense of a hidden landscape speckled with numinous places awaiting rediscovery; exactly the feeling that attracted me to well-hunting by Sacred Waters, among other things. Easily the most moving image in the book, however, is the photo (p.55) of the residents of North Marston proudly showing off the restored well of Sir John Schorne - a tribute to their effort and pride in their community's past.

This book gives a splendid account of the current state of holy wells in Britain. I can't think of a better to introduce people to the subject, or indeed to re-enthuse a jaded 'well-ie'.




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