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The Old Wife's Well

Sacred Well


I think we can probably establish this as having a pre-historic origin.

In 270 a.d., the Emperor Aurelian declared worship of the sun god, Sol Invictus, an official religion throughout the empire. He dedicated the Sol Invictus Temple in Rome on December 25th., 274, and declared that day Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – the Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun. Our midwinter festival has been held on 25th. ever since.

If this spring had previously hosted a winter solstice festival, then the Romans patrolling the nearby Wade's Causeway would have referred to it as Fontana Natalis – the 'Birth Spring', or 'Winter Solstice Spring' (the winter solstice being the birth of the year – in the Welsh language, Christmas is Nadolig, in Cornish it's Nadelik, both words derived from Latin natalis - 'birth').

Centuries later, a folk rendition of Latin fontana natalis (perhaps influenced by Norman French 'fontein') was all they could manage. But it's there to this day – Nattie Fonten. Roll on, roll on.
hotaire Posted by hotaire
8th October 2009ce
Edited 8th October 2009ce

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