Season 2 Episode 3

A Morbid Taste for Bones

Aired Sunday 8:30 PM Aug 25, 1996 on ITV
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Episode Summary

A Morbid Taste for Bones
A group of monks from Shrewsbury Abbey travel into Wales to recover the bones of Saint Winifred. When they try to bribe the Welsh, they find themselves at odds with the locals, and when a Welsh landowner is found murdered the visiting English monks are looked on as the prime suspects. They turn to Cadfael to find the true killer and to save themselves.


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    Anna Friel

    Anna Friel


    Guest Star

    John Hallam

    John Hallam

    Lord Rhysart

    Guest Star

    Nick Patrick

    Nick Patrick

    Brother Columbanus

    Guest Star

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    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (0)

    • NOTES (2)

      • The plot of this story is based on a real event. In 1138, St Winifred's relics were transferred from their original grave in Wales to Shrewsbury Abbey, where they were enshrined. This elaborate shrine was a popular pilgrimage site until it was destroyed at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540. St Winifred is also associated with three springs, all said to confer healing properties. St Winefride's well in Flintshire, at the presumed site of her death, is known as the Lourdes of Wales. The other wells named after her are at Woolston in Shropshire and at Holywell Farm in Cheshire, both said to be sites where her remains rested overnight on the way to Shrewsbury Abbey.

        The legend of St Winifred is much as related in the episode. Gwenffrew ferch Tyfid ap Eiludd, a seventh-century Welsh noblewoman, rejected her suitor Caradog in favor of entering a nunnery. Caradog, enraged, drew his sword and decapitated Gwenffrew, whose head flew off and rolled down a hill. A healing spring sprang up where it landed. Her uncle St Beuno reattached her head, whereupon she sprang to life, then Beuno cursed Caradog, who melted into the ground. Gwenffrew is the Welsh form of Winifred.

        The scant historical records suggest that Owain ap Tyfid, brother of a woman named Gwenffrew, killed a man named Caradog in revenge for an unspecified crime. Winefride succeeded St Tenoi as abbess at Gwytherin in Denbighshire and died about 660. Tenoi may have been Winefride's mother and St Beuno's aunt.

        St Winifred is connected with several of the Brother Cadfael stories. Both The Rose Rent and The Pilgrim of Hate are both set on her feast day, 3 November, and in The Holy Thief the plot centers around retrieving her stolen coffin.

      • This episode is based on the first of the Brother Cadfael books by Edith Pargeter (writing as Ellis Peters), A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977).

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