St Bertram (update).

On the 21st of October 2011 I revisited the church in the beautiful village of Ilam in the hope of photographing the carvings which can be found on the font here, and which I believe depict various stages in St Bertram’s life.

On the front panel of the font there is a figure of a man drawing away a woman who is reluctant to follow his steps. This possibly is representative of the incident with which Bertram began his association with Ilam – his elopement with an Irish princess.

Two of the other carvings depict a monster which may perhaps be a wolf, in one it has a human head in its jaws and in the other the head is lying on the floor. These scenes may represent the story of how Bertram’s wife and new born child were killed and eaten by a wolf or wolves in a nearby wood.

It was because of this disaster that Bertram left the material world and adopted a saintly existence, the change which seems to be illustrated in the next two carved panels which can be found on this font. The first shows a man with his hands tied and bound and the second shows a man with his hands loose and arms unbound.

In the last panel on the font is a lamb with a cross resting on its forefoot and at the head of the cross can be seen a bird, presumably a dove, hovering, a symbol of the Holy Ghost.

St Bertram died on the 9th of September in an unknown year. The day of his death seems to have given its name to the church – September the 9th being Holy Cross day.

On my other web page regarding St Bertram I have found his well after many hours of searching on the side of the hill known as the Bunster, however to complicate matters there is another St Bertram’s well which can be found between Ilam church and the river Dove. This well is only about 100 yards away from the church and is surrounded by a stone wall, there are steps down into it, however iron railings have been inserted into the wall to stop access to it. It is my belief that this well would have been used by St Bertram to fully immerse people who were in need of healing unlike the other well which is more like a spring flowing from the side of the hill.


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