Holy Well Pebbles, France


Transferred from the Wellcome Institute in 1985; 1985.52.997
These two pebbles were collected from Saint Adrian’s Well, near Pontivy in the Morbihan region of Brittany, France. Brittany is famous for its holy wells and sacred springs, many of which are named after the Celtic saints who travelled to Brittany from Cornwall, Wales and Ireland as Christian missionaries in the 5th and 6th centuries.
Each Breton holy well was once believed to have its own special curative powers. Water from Saint Mériadek’s well was drunk to cure headaches, while drops of water from Saint Cadoc’s well were used to treat deafness. Sick cattle were taken to Saint Herbot’s well to drink the water, and some wells were large enough to take curative baths in. As stated on the card, the pebbles from Saint Adrian’s well were ‘obtained from the bottom of the well when the hands are washed in it’ and ‘kept to ward off a large number of diseases’.

Artisans of Memory

Behind the scenes of an amulets project

This series of short films follows the progress and practices of those connected with the Small Blessings project as they unravel the stories surrounding these curious objects.

The full series of films may be viewed here.


Amulets Competition

The competition is now closed and a winner has been announced. Find out more here.

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