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The Origins of Ireland’s Holy Wells
Author: Celeste Ray. ii+172 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. 127 2014. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784910440. Epublication ISBN 9781784910457.
Book contents page
This book re-assesses archaeological research into holy well sites in Ireland and the evidence for votive deposition at watery sites throughout northwest European prehistory. Ray examines a much-ignored and diminishing archaeological resource; moving beyond debates about the possible Celticity of these sites in order to gain a deeper understanding of patterns among sacred watery sites. The work considers how and why sacred springs are archaeologically-resistant sites and what has actually been found at the few excavated in Ireland. Drawing on the early Irish literature (the myths, hagiographies, penitentials and annals), the author gives an account of pre-Christian supermundane wells in Ireland and what we know about their early Christian use for baptism, and concludes by considering the origins of “rounding” rituals at holy wells.

About the Author:
Celeste Ray is Professor of Anthropology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Trained in Anthropology, Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management, she has previously published on Ethnicity, Scottish-Americans, and Regionalism.



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