Archive | June, 2012

Newsletter

21 Jun

NEWSLETTER

At last, something to report!
I visited the headmistress, Mrs Jones Evans at St. Winifride’s school yesterday.  She is very happy for the work to go ahead, and has given us permission to access the site through the school playing fields.  She is going to have a key cut to open the school gates, and has also given permission for us to move the wooden fencing surrounding the playing fields so we can easily access the site.  She is even looking into the possibility of using a shed to store our less precious equipment! So all good.  If we want to access the site during school hours, we must report to reception and sign in.  
The area surrounding the well and all the vicinity is very overgrown.  Therefore, there will be a lot of clearance work to be done before we can begin any archaeological excavation there. This will be difficult work, and also needs to be done carefully.  Inevitably, the area we want to investigate will grow – the job will get bigger as we clear the undergrowth, but fortunately there is no time scale involved in this, so no rush.  Providing the weather is ok there is no reason why we can’t work throughout the year, in fact with a site like this one, less vegetation the better.  Another advantage with starting a bit later is that any birds nesting in the woodland will have fledged.  
Background information on St. Bueno is rather scarce.  Apart from the legend there is little in the way of hard facts regarding the well.  During the early middle ages St. Bueno and St. Winifride were two of the primary saints of Britain and their origin is Anglo Saxon.  An account of pilgrims visiting the wells in the 14th century runs like this:  Pilgrims were met on the road by monks from Basingwerk.  They were escorted to St. Bueno’s well where they were accommodated in a guest house overnight.  In the morning they were taken to St. Bueno’s well for prayers, and then mass in the adjacent chapel.  After this, they were taken to bathe in St. Winifride’s well which lay below that of St. Bueno.  The water at St. Bueno’s well was described as “gushing forth in a roaring torrent”. It certainly isn’t like that now.  The last pilgrims to visit St. Bueno’s well was in the 1960’s, when the Jesuit mission in Holywell was closed down.  Since then, the well site has become very overgrown and is almost inaccessible from the car park at St. Winifride’s,
Holy wells are often very ancient places of worship and sanctity to pre Christian people and were dedicated to local deities.  They were often taken over by the Christian missionaries who attached Christian connections to them.  Therefore, the chance to excavate the site of a holy well is very exciting and a wonderful opportunity to learn about the origins of an extremely important site of pilgrimage for a very long time.
So, we need to buy tools and finalise insurance cover and obtain the gate keys from Mrs. Jones Evans.  I think we will be ready to begin work on the first weekend of July – Sunday the 1st.  If we could meet in the car park of St. Winifride’s school for about 10.30 to 11 we can begin the hard work of clearance.  Exciting!!!
Of course, if anyone can’t make it on that day it doesn’t matter.  Work will be continuing for a long while I think, so volunteers are welcome any time.  If people are available then work can also be done during the week.  Please don’t forget things like strong shoes and layers of clothing and things like hygienic wipes, there are no washing facilities on the site.

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