In The Search For The Lost Wonders Of Medieval Britain


An ancient—millennium old—manuscript may detail the locations of hidden, magical places that existed in Medieval Britain—from lakes with sixty islands to shape-shifting burial mounds.

Since time immemorial have ancient philosophers and writers documented the world around them. One of the best-known catalogs of the ancient world was thought to have been composed during the second century when Greek writer Antipater of Sidon cataloged the ancient wonders of the world, including details about the Ancient Gardens of Babylon and the Great Pyramid at Giza

Since then, many others have decided to catalog the ancient wonders of the world surrounding them.

Now, as noted by Sarah Laskow in an in-depth feature for Atlas Obscura, a group of experts has set out to search for these lost places, using a millennium-old manuscript, in an adventure unlike any other.

Written by a monk sometime between the 9th and 12th century, the ancient manuscript called Wonders Of Britain is being used by geography professor Andrew Evans to search for the lost wonders.

A significant number of these ancient wonders—from lakes with sixty islands to shape-shifting burial mounds—have been lost to history and are remembered only as legends.

image Credit: Andrew Evans

However, some of these ‘magical’ places may soon be revealed; after all, they say, a thin line divides myth from reality… right?

So what’s the deal with the story?

It all started a decade ago when professor Evans came across an ancient document while looking for a name for his eldest child.

Since then, he has been hunting for the mythical places in Britain using his knowledge, and the manuscript believed to have been written by a monk called Nunnis.

Some places mentioned in the manuscript like Bone Well, Whirlyholes and the Roman-built baths in Somerset can still be found today.

Other locations are thought to be only a myth like the levitating altar, said to be held up by the will of God.

Anglesey, the island situated off the north coast of Wales, is home to four of the wonders described in the script. Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Wonders of Britain is said to pick out natural phenomenon and ‘small miracles’ concentrated in northern parts of the country, and in Wales.

The text offers countless details about Britain ranging from the first descendants of Trojan Refuggeees to early accounts of King Arthur. Historia Britannum was once considered as a reliable account of the history of Britain.

Professor Evans has opened a website called wondersofbritain.org where he details the ancient sites including:

  • 1: Loch Lumonoy
  • 2: Trahannon River
  • 3: The Fiery Pool
  • 4: The Salt Fountains
  • 5: Two Severn Kings
  • 6: Llyn Liuan
  • 7: Fount Guur Helic
  • 8: The Appled Ash
  • 9: The Wind Hole
  • 10: The Levitating Altar
  • 11: The Returning Plank
  • 12: Cabal’s Cairn
  • 13: Amr’s Tomb
  • 14: Cruc Mawr Tomb

The website was built to help its visitors learn more about Nennius’ Wonders: their art and science, and the way in which they act as pins, fastening Britain today to a hidden landscape of dark age mythology.

Featured image credit: Mirabilia Brittonum, or the Wonders of Britain, a guide to the history hidden in the British landscape. GARRY WALTON.


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