Petrified by holy water…
By The Fairytale Traveler’s contributing author, Scott Malthouse
The rural village of Wookey Hole on the edge of the Mendip Hills, Somerset, is one of Britain’s most renowned folklore locations – Wookey Hole Caves.
This subterranean labyrinth is beautiful as it is haunting and an ancient home to Neanderthal man and later cave-dwelling Celts. However, it’s the centerpiece of the caves that make it a shining gem in England’s rich folkloric treasure trove.
A gnarled stalagmite that resides in the first chamber has come to be known as the Witch of Wookey Hole. There are multiple versions of the story, but they all contain the same features. A Glastonbury man marries a girl from Wookey, but a jilted witch residing in the caves curses them so that their romance fails. The man who becomes a monk, decides he wants revenge on the witch. He delves in the
caves and comes across an underground river, which he blesses and splashes into a dark corner of the cave. The witch, having been hiding in that corner, is drenched in holy water which immediately petrifies her.
The 1000 year old bones of a woman were recently excavated from the caves and linked to the apparent witch that lived there.
The tale of the witch is so popular that Wookey Hole Ltd hires an actor to play a witch at the attraction. In 2009 when the old witch had left the role, there was huge media attention around the applicants hoping to land to £50,000 salary spot as the new witch/ The job went to Carole Bohanan – one of 3000 people who applied.