Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/383

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
355
A SMITH MONK.

pursue this and other crafts: 'We command that every priest, to increase knowledge, diligently learn some handicraft.'[1]

The famed St Dunstan, the most proficient man of his age, and who lived in the l0th century, among his other accomplishments, was a cunning worker in metals, and particularly iron.

Glastonbury Abbey, where Arthur, the last of the British kings, had been buried, was, on the admission of the future abbot, principally filled by Celts or Scots from Ireland, who were at that time the most learned men. This abbey was famous throughout all the land for the ability of its monks, and a British population dwelt in the surrounding country. The usual austerities of a monastic life did not suffice for Dunstan in his earlier years, but, like a Druid, he gave himself up to a solitary existence, practising his skill in secret. He built a kind of Wayland Smith's cave by the side of the sacred edifice, in which he enclosed himself. This cell or hole was only 5 feet in length and 2½ in width, and it barely rose 4 feet above the ground. The earth was excavated just enough to enable him to stand upright, though he could never lie down. His biographer (Osberne) was so puzzled with this strange retreat that he knew not what to call it. Cells were commonly dug in an eminence or raised from the earth, but this was the earth itself excavated. Its only wall was its door, which covered the whole, and in this was a small aperture to admit light and air. In this sepulchre he abode, denying himself rest as well as needful food, fasting to the point of starvation, and constantly working at his forge when not engaged

  1. Wilkins. Ibid. p. 83.