Bet Tohorah at Jacob's Wells Road
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County Council (Unitary)
Bristol City Council
SJ577577 (357691, 172862)
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A medieval bet tohorah situated on the western side of Jacob's Well Road, stylistically dated to c1140. Bet tohorah are 'cleansing houses' used in the Jewish burial ceremony and this is the only known example in this country. It is located near to the Jewish cemetery known as Jew's Acre, which was established after 1177. The structure is situated partly inside and partly outside a building at the junction of Jacob's Well Road and Constitution Hill. It comprises a small rock cut chamber entered via a low rectangular arch and two stone steps. There is an inscription in Hebrew on the lintel over the arch. South of this chamber, below the floor of the present building, is a stone chamber containing standing water. The Hebrew inscription has been interpreted as meaning 'living waters', a phrase used in Hebrew to describe the type of sacred water required to cleanse a person after contact with a corpse. The site was discovered in 1987 and surveyed in 1988. It had not been fully excavated in May 2002.
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