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H 245 x W 175 mm

174 pages

illustrated throughout in colour and black & white

Published Jan 2014

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781784910440

Digital: 9781784910457

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The Origins of Ireland’s Holy Wells

By Celeste Ray

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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.



1: Water Veneration and Votive Deposition in Prehistoric Northern and Western Europe ;
2: Iron Age Evidence, Continuity, and the “Celtic” Question ;
3: Iron Age Water Deities ;
4: Holy Wells and Sacred Springs as Archaeologically-Resistant Sites ;
5: The Contested Origins and Materiality of Irish Holy Wells ;
6: Supermundane Wells of the Iron Age and the Early Irish Literature ;
7: Irish Sacred Wells of the Early Christian Era and the Conversion Model ;
8: Sacred Springs and Conversion Strategies in Britain and on the Continent ;
9: Christian Holy Wells and Baptism ;
10: The Origins of Rounding and the Interconnectedness of Wells ;
Appendix A: Irish Excavation Reports of “holy wells” from (as of June 2014) ;
Appendix B: Holy Wells in the County Archaeological Inventories of Ireland

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.