1348 was the year the Great Plague first reached England, striking fear across the land. Lasting about seven years, it killed perhaps two million people here out of a population of between four and seven million. Likely carried by rat fleas from central asia carried along the silk road and spread from the mediterranean ports by merchant ships, it caused the highest death rate where population was most dense.
Despite subsiding, it didn’t really go away from this country and occurred again on a lesser scale many times over the following few centuries before the epidemic of 1665 – known as the Black Death – killed a similar proportion of the English population.
Healers were at a loss to explain its occurrence and all sorts of bogus explanations, treatments and persecutions of minorities followed because it was widely thought that plagues were a punishment from God for the sins of the population. We have no evidence of exactly what happened in Shepton Mallet, but this small extract from a local newspaper of 1926 gives a clue that people here probably thought likewise.
Has anyone found a medieval stone bowl around here? It may have an interesting history!