IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 1215: Sacred Springs: Natural Water and the Spiritual World

Wednesday 9 July 2008, 14.15-15.45

Organiser:Madeleine Gray, Department of History, University of Wales, Newport
Moderator/Chair:Graham R. Jones, St John's College, University of Oxford
Paper 1215-aDragons at the Well
(Language: English)
Jeremy Harte, Bourne Hall Museum, Ewell, Surrey
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Folk Studies, Hagiography, Lay Piety
Paper 1215-bSacred Space and the Natural World: A Case Study of the Welsh Shrine at Penrhys
(Language: English)
Madeleine Gray, Department of History, University of Wales, Newport
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Language and Literature - Celtic, Lay Piety
Paper 1215-cWells, Storms and Drownings: Water Miracles in the Hagiography of St. Geretrud of Nivelles
(Language: English)
Sarah Tatum, University of Manchester / European Review of History
Paper 1215-dPowerful Waters: The Social Importance of the Magico-Religious Abilities of Holy Wells in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland
(Language: English)
Silas Mallery, North Hennepin Community College / University of Minnesota

Holy wells are an obvious point of intersection of the natural, supernatural, and spiritual worlds. This session explores the importance of natural resources and natural and supernatural imagery in the construction of sacred space. The dragon’s journey through mythic landscapes symbolises conflicts of culture and nature in the increasingly anthropogenic landscape of the later Middle Ages. Natural imagery in Welsh poetry to the shrine of the Virgin Mary at Penrhys suggests a clear sense of place and the natural environment in descriptions of both the route and the shrine. Pure water and a rocky ledge gave St Werstan all he needed for his hermitage.