1884.140.331 .1

Rag strip

Place details: EUROPE. UK. England West Yorkshire Leeds Thorp Arch St Helen's Well. Cultural Group: European English Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Textile / ?. Processes: ?. Weight: Dimensions: Max L = 148 mm When Collected: 1869 Acquired: Found unentered 1 October 2003 Donated 1884

KEYWORD: Religious Offering / Textile / CLASS: Religion / ?.

Object description: Beige rag strip knotted twice. [JW [Excav. PR] 25/02/2013]

Publications history, trails & websites: Mentioned in Ellen Ettlinger, Folklore vol 54, no. 1, (March 1943) pp 227-249, 'Since E. Sidney Hartland's convincing interpretation ["Pin wells and Rag-bushes, in Folk-lore vol iv pp 451-470] the numerous rags found fastened to bushes (or trees) near sacred wells in all parts of Great Britain must be regarded as examples of Contagious Magic. In the Pitt Rivers Museum can be seen specimens collected mostly at the end of the last century in Cornwall, Yorkshire ... E. Sidney Hartland argued thus: if any article in contact with a beneficent power may relieve my pain, restore me to health, or promote my general prosperity. In pre-Christian days, when wells and trees were identified with spirits, offerings were deposited in their immediate neighbourhood to preserve the contact between the worshipper and the divinity. Since the spread of Christianity the real intention of this rite has been preserved only at those wells, where Christian Spirits replaced the well spirit. To quote only instances from the Pitt Rivers Museum, this was the case in St Helen's Well in Thorparch, Yorks ... From St Helen's Well .. it is reported that rags had been placed there as a cure for eye diseases. Miss Burne, who observed that the majority of healing springs are reputed to be effectual for diseases of the eyes, has connected this special virtue with a legend in the Prose Edda, which tells how Odin gave his eye in return for a draught of water from the wisdom well Mimir under the Ash Yggdrasil. As the All-Father has but one eye - the sun - the other eye, namely, the reflection of the sun, is seen in the well - and hence its waters can heal diseased eyes. [C.S. Burne Shropshire Folklore p 422]' [p247-8]