HS2 archaeologists uncover 16th century Medieval gardens
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St Winefride’s Well in Holywell, Flintshire, is said to be the oldest pilgrimage site in the UK after its waters ‘brought a person back to life’. You might not have heard of this gruesome tale, but the story has been passed down for generations since the 12th century.
As the legend goes, on a Sunday during the seventh century, a beautiful virgin martyr named Winifred was murdered by Prince Caradog.
While stopping for water, the young Prince proposed marriage, but was turned down as Winifred wished to become a nun and preserve her virginity.
Furious at being rejected, Caradog tried to take the martyr by force – but she managed to run towards a church for safety.
Just before being able to hide safely behind the church doors, the Prince charged up to her on his horse and beheaded Winifred on the spot.
It was at this exact location that a spring suddenly appeared, also known as the “Lourdes of Wales” as it was believed to have healing powers.
After discovering Winifred’s lifeless body, her uncle placed her head back on her body in the spring – and miraculously revived her.
For over a thousand years, several people from across the world have taken the pilgrimage to bathe in the waters and write their initials on the chapel walls.
Those who believe they were healed after washing in the spring, you can find summaries of their personal stories at the church too.
2Chill member Amy Crowther, recommends the site for historical and medieval fans.
Giving it four stars, Amy calls it, “A tiny building with a massive legend attached, if you book this little hideaway you’ll be staying in a former chapel on top of an ancient spring where pilgrims have visited for centuries.”
She continued, “It contains a single room which has a small kitchen annex, but the only bathroom is a 10m walk outside, which may test your faith in Mother Nature on the chillier nights!”
To follow the legend further, you can visit relics of St Winifred’s at another well in Shrewsbury.
Another place associated with the legend is Gwytherin, Conwy, where she grew up, and the chapel is still named after her.
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