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Sacred Springs

4 5 The waters of holy wells have long been used to heal many conditions, by drinking, bathing or occasionally applying in a poultice. Sometimes their names reflect what they healed, such as the Eye Well, Wart Well and Gout Well. The variety of conditions healed was vast. Anything from broken bones, lameness, ruptures, sprains and rheumatism to deafness, headaches, asthma, tumours, jaundice and infertility. Children could be healed of whooping cough and rickets. The greatest number of wells healed eyes at Roman Wroxeter forty plaster eyes were found, plus one of sheet gold. The healing of the eye may be identified with the healing of the soul. Animals could be cured at some wells. However, at others, if an animal were put in the water this would deprive the well of its power to heal. At a well in Wales a dead dog was placed in the water and, because of this insult, the spring ceased to flow. Perhaps the most unusual treatments were seen for the cure of mental illnesses at the bowsening pools, as seen at St Cleers Well in Cornwall illustrated opposite. Here the unfortunate patient would be thrown backwards into the cold well water, plunged up and down vigorously, then taken to the church and prayed over. If they did not regain their wits the process would be repeated until it showed signs of success. It was obviously an alarming example of an early form of shock treatment. CONDITIONS CuRES the healing powers of holy waters
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