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Festival for St Oswald could be held in Oswestry next year

By Sue Austin | Oswestry | Oswestry entertainment | Published:

He was the man who gave his name to Oswestry, but the town has done little to commemorate St Oswald, the king who was killed in a battle there.

Now plans are being discussed to hold a festival next year to celebrate the of St Oswald, once the most powerful ruler in Britain who became a saint.

The idea has come from town councillor, Mike Coppock and resident Mike Lade, after only a handful of people turned out to visit Oswald's Well in the town last week on the saint's day.

Councillor Coppock said that when he moved to Oswestry he was amazed that, apart from services in St Oswald's Church little else was done to recognise the saint.

"If it was not for Oswald, Oswestry may well not have existed," he said.

He was king of Northumbria from AD 634 until his death at the age of 38, when he was defeated at the battle of Maserfield by the Welsh king, Penda.

His body was dismembered and legend has it that, when brother went to collect the body parts. Oswald's pet raven is said to have picked up an arm and dropped it by the brother. A well sprung up at the spot where it was dropped which became a holy place of pilgrimage.

"In pre-Norman days religious places were major centre's of pilgrimage and Oswald's Well quickly became a cult destination.

Oswald's Well

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"A significant settlement build up to serve those who arrived at the well on the pilgrimage. That eventually became Oswestry - Oswald's Tree.

"They talked of the miracles of the water and because they took soil home from around the well there was apparently a hole the height of a man. But today there are many people in Oswestry who don't even know that the well exists or where it is.

"Historians accept that Oswald's impact and his story is very under represented in Britain were as in Europe there was a big movement dedicated to him. Lindisfarne is a holy island because of Oswald. He gave it to the monk, Aidan, who he would accompany on his travels, helping him in translation."

Councillor Coppock was so taken with the story that he commissioned the creation of an icon of the saint four years ago which was taken to the well on August 5, St Oswald's Day, for a short ceremony of readings.

"We held a short, pilgrimage walk from St Oswald's Church up along Maserfield to the well to commemorate his life and death."

"I am hoping that next year we can do more around the day and have a Festival of St Oswald's in the town."

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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