Wookey Hole is famed for “The Witch of Wookey” a giant stalagmite, which resembles a witches face in profile. Folklore tells that the stalagmite was once a witch who terrorised the local area, and was petrified by the intervention of a Glastonbury monk.
There are a number of versions of the tale but the basic story line runs that a monk from Glastonbury had been betrothed to a girl from Wookey, but the witch had put a curse on the couple so that their romance failed. The monk took it upon himself to wreak his revenge (or he was sent by the Abbot of Glastonbury, or hired by the local villagers) and rid the area of the troublesome witch, who had also caused many more romances to fail. He went into the cave, and managing to find her off guard threw holy water over her. As a practioner of diabolical magic the blessed water had an immediate and astounding effect, turning her complete to stone, leaving her as a cold statue to remain in the cave until the end of time.
There is also the legend of a huge eel, said to inhabit the underground pools. Fishermen – whose nets the eel had been destroying – drove it up the River Axe and into the cave complex from the river Severn.
Historically the cave was occupied during the Stone Age, and when excavated the bones of a Romano-British woman were discovered, along with the skeletons of a goat and kid. She was carrying a comb, a dagger, and a stalagmite stone ball, which some people have suggested makes her a wise woman or shaman. These artefacts are now in the Wells Museum.
It is possible that in ancient times the cave may have been seen as an entrance to the otherworld, and may have featured in the religious practices of the local tribes.
According to Antony D. Hippisley Coxe in his book Haunted Britain, a cottage close to the cave is said to be haunted by the ghost of an old woman clasping her hands together.
Directions: To the North West of Wells, off the A731.