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Sacred Springs

16 17 The ancient hill town of Malmesbury stands on a rocky eminence, almost completely surrounded by rivers and noted for its magnificent abbey church. Below the abbey rises Daniels Well, a clear spring which flows into a pool. This is named after Bishop Daniel of Malmesbury who submerged his body in the cold waters throughout the year as a penance. This story relates to traditions at other wells. It is said that at St Chads Well, Lichfield, the saint would go naked to stand in the water and pray. St Aldhelm is said to have sat in his well at Doulting singing psalms, and St Patrick sat naked in the Struel Wells, County Down, singing spiritual songs. Many houses in the old part of Malmesbury have wells. One private home hides another of St Aldhelms holy wells, where the saint is said to have meditated. Legend says that small fishes magically appear from nowhere and just as mysteriously disappear. Not to be missed is the Swallowhead Spring illustrated, the source of the River Kennet. It is tucked quietly in the amazing Avebury landscape overlooked by the mysterious Silbury Hill and much visited and decorated. Other wells in Wiltshire include the large Dipping Well in the centre of Market Lavington and the delightfully peaceful well at Edington, known as the Monks Well see opposite page 1, which is hidden away from the main road. DANIElS WEll and the Swallowhead Spring, Wiltshire
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