Mystery!: Cadfael (1994–1996)
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A Morbid Taste for Bones 

Cadfael and a deputation of monks from Shrewsbury are dispatched to Wales to recover the remains of martyred St. Winifred over the objections of the local lord and residents.


Richard Stroud (as Rick Stroud)


Christopher Russell (screenplay), Edith Pargeter (novel) (as Ellis Peters)




Episode complete credited cast:
Derek Jacobi ... Brother Cadfael
Michael Culver ... Prior Robert
Julian Firth ... Brother Jerome
Terrence Hardiman ... Abbot Radulfus
Mark Charnock ... Brother Oswin
Anna Friel ... Sioned
John Hallam ... Lord Rhysart
Nick Patrick ... Brother Columbanus
Ellis Jones Ellis Jones ... Father Ianto
Stephen Moyer ... Godwin
Phil Rowlands Phil Rowlands ... Bened (as Philip Rowlands)
Steffan Trefor Steffan Trefor ... Peredur
Elizabeth Fitzherbert Elizabeth Fitzherbert ... Apparition


Ambitious Prior Robert and self-serving novice Brother Columbanus instigate a trip to Wales to bring Saint Winifred's bones back to the abbey. Welsh Brother Cadfael is co-opted as translator. When a local bigwig opposes letting their saint leave and winds up dead, Cadfael must both prove the innocence of a foreigner and determine whether the little Welsh girl wants her bones left in peace. Written by mama.sylvia

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Release Date:

25 August 1996 (UK) See more »

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Did You Know?


When they are traveling to Wales, Jerome is wearing a modern day wristwatch. It is visible only for a moment when the sleeve of his habit falls back off of his left wrist. See more »


[first lines]
Brother Oswin: My first bleeding.
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User Reviews

Not Merely Sherlock Holmes in the Middle Ages: An Honest Recreation of the Medieval World
18 March 2010 | by classicalsteveSee all my reviews

When I had first heard of the Cadfael series, I thought it was simply 20th-century whodunits with the Middle Ages as a kind of superficial background. Fortunately, I was quite incorrect. What Ellis Peters (who wrote the original books of Brother Cadfael) and the filmmakers of the series have done is to fuse the idea of whodunits within a completely medieval context, espousing not only the look but also the rhetoric, belief and sensibilities of the medieval mind. My suspicion is that Ellis Peters did appropriate research into the Middle Ages to give us a picture that is much closer to medieval life than other similar productions, such as the recent "Robin Hood" series, which is merely a 20th-century action series disguised as being in the Middle Ages.

If there is one aspect of the Middle Ages that permeated every facet of medieval Europe, it would have to be religious fanaticism. Nearly every act, deed, circumstance, and event was defined by its relationship with the divine. Criminal acts were the work of the Devil. Charitable acts were the result of God, Jesus, Mary or one of the saints. Holy relics and the bones of saints were as fused to religious belief as the conduct of the military and the nobility. There was no distinction between the secular and the religious as there is today. And turning one's back on religion during this period could have dire consequences.

The essential plot of "A Taste for Bones", the first Brother Cadfael book, is completely entrenched in medieval rationale. At the Benedictine monastery Shrewsbury Abbey where Brother Cadfael and his colleagues work and reside, a young novice, Brother Columbanus, has an epileptic seizure. He claims that during his attack, he had a vision of St Winifred, a Welsh saint dating from the 7th century, who requests that he and his monastery unearth her bones and transport them from Wales back to England. In the Middle Ages, the bones of saints were highly prized possessions. Pilgrims and other Christians firmly believed that touching the remains of saints could impart many benefits, from healing sickness to gaining wealth. Ownership of such items could be of great profitability, enticing pilgrims to travel great distances to visit the abbey or church housing such remains. Tradition held that pilgrims should donate something to the host church, usually as an offering. This was not only a matter of the divine it was also a matter of money! Saints be praised!

Cadfael, Columbanus, and a few of the other brothers undertake a journey to Wales to retrieve the bones of Winifred and arrive at a medieval township that would make ancient Native American villages look like the Hilton. But upon making their intentions known to the common folk, the entourage encounters stiff opposition despite their claim that their motives derive from a divinely-inspired vision. Lord Rhysart, the wealthiest landowner of the village objects the most strenuously to the removal of their most highly-revered saint. The day after the fierce debate, Rhysart is found dead, and the foreign monks become suspects. Cadfael must solve the crime before the villagers take matters in their own the medieval way.

A wonderful production from start-to-finish, with a fine performance by Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael, as well as honorable mention for John Hallam as Rhysart and Ellis Jones as the local parish priest. Maybe the only criticism might be the character of Cadfael himself who comes off as having a modern mind residing in a medieval body in a medieval world. He is almost too insightful for the age, but maybe it works as a story-device to help the audience see medieval life through his eyes. Common sense did not seem very common the Middle Ages. Simultaneously if you accept Cadfael's insight as being ahead of his time by several centuries, it's a wonderful and entertaining production that transports you to the 12th century. How mankind ever lived through the Middle Ages without destroying itself is a mystery not even Cadfael can solve.

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