Jacob's Well, Bristol

Jacob's Well in Bristol, England is an early mediaeval structure thought to be a Jewish ritual bath.

The stone structure is built round a natural hot spring and on a lintel is an inscription thought to be the Hebrew word "zochalim", "flowing". This led to the theory that this was a mikveh or Jewish ritual bath. The interpretation of the inscription has been challenged and the alternative theory proposed that the bath is too deep for a mikvah and may have been used to cleanse bodies before burial in a Jewish cemetery at Brandon Hill. There was a small Jewish community in Bristol from about 1100.

The spring became the property of St Augustine's Abbey in 1142 and the exterior rebuilt in the 18th or 19th century. Jacob's Well was rediscovered in 1987 and is now a scheduled ancient monument.

References

* R. R. Emanuel and M. W. Ponsford, "Jacob's Well, Bristol, Britain's only known medieval Jewish Ritual Bath (Mikveh)", Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 112 (1994) 73-86 [http://www.biab.ac.uk/online/results1.asp?ItemID=24974]
* A. Foyle, "Bristol", Pevsner Architectural Guides (2004) ISBN 978-0-300-10442-4
* J. Hillaby and R. Sermon, "Jacob's Well, Bristol: Mikveh or Bet Tohorah?", Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society 122 (2004) 127-152
* J. Lea-Jones. "Historical account of the area known as Jacob’s Wells, Clifton, Bristol, England: from twelfth century to modern times" (1999) ISBN 0-951-00689-4
* S. Watson, "Secret underground Bristol" (Bristol 1991) ISBN 0-907145-01-9


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