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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/85

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Sacred Wells in Wales.

so great in its efficacy that they were wont to leave it, as he says, with their health wonderfully improved ; and he mentions a story related to him by an old neighbour, Stephen I fan, who has been dead for some years, to the effect that a carriage, drawn by four horses, came once, more than half a century ago, to Llandeilo. It was full of invalids coming from Pen Clawdd, in Gower, Glamorganshire, to try the water of the well. They returned, however, no better than they came, for though they had drunk of the well, they had neglected to do so out of the skull. This was afterwards pointed out to them by somebody, and they resolved to make the long journey to the well again. This time, as we are told, they did the right thing, and departed in excellent health.

Such are the contents of Mr. Gibby's letter ; and I would now only point out that we have here an instance of a well which was probably sacred before the time of St. Teilo : in fact, one would possibly be right in supposing that the sanctity of the well and its immediate surroundings was one of the causes of the site being chosen by a Christian missionary. But consider for a moment what has happened : the well-paganism has annexed the saint, and established a belief ascribing to him the skull used in the well-ritual. The landlady and her family, it is true, do not believe in the efficacy of the well, or take gifts from those who visit the well ; but they continue, out of kindness, to hand the skull full of water to those who persevere in their belief in it. In other words, the faith in the well continues in a measure intact, when the walls of the church have fallen into utter decay. Such is the great persistence of some ancient beliefs ; and in this particular instance we have a succession which seems to point unmistakably to an ancient priesthood of this spring of water.

John Rhys.


In the discussion which followed this paper, interesting particulars were mentioned by Mr. T. E. Morris, of Portmadoc ; and in response to an appeal by the author of