Trinity Well, Trinity Gask, Perthshire

Healing Spring:  OS Grid Reference – NN 9631 1812

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore 25993

Getting Here

The spring is by the trees. The roof of the church is visible past the tree

The spring is in the trees. The roof of the church is visible past the tree

Take the B8062 North from Auchterarder, and turn right immediately after crossing Kinkell Bridge. Continue through the hamlet of Trinity Gask, and take the next turn left. The Well is situated in the wooded area of land to your left, before you reach the church on the right. I tried visiting in summer but was beaten back by the boscage of man high nettles, goose grass and brambles. An autumn visit was made, and access was readily available to the wooded area over a barbed wire fence from the field behind the wood.

Archeology & History

The Canmore description quotes from an August 1967 report by an Ordnance Survey inspector:

“Trinity Well is now dry, and all that remains is an overgrown hollow. A manhole cover nearby suggests the spring is now piped.”

On the day of my 2014 visit, the water was flowing from an issue on the field side of the woodland. There was some low walling on the field side of the enclosure, otherwise no masonry or paving was visible. Any there may have been is now either buried or robbed for building material.

The waters still flow despite a 1967 report to the contrary

The waters still flow despite a 1967 report to the contrary

The 1796 Statistical Account has this to say: ‘ The most noted well in the parish is at Trinity Gask. It is remarkable for the purity and lightness of its water; the spring is copious and perennial. Superstition, aided by the interested artifices of popish priests, raised, in times of ignorance and bigotry, this well to no small degree of celebrity. It was affirmed, that every person who was baptised with the water of this well, would never be seized with the plague….. But the extraordinary virtue of Trinity Gask well has perished with the downfall of superstition, and the introduction of a free and rational enquiry into nature and religion.’

Walling is visible behind the spring issue

Walling is visible behind the spring issue

The 1837 New Statistical Account goes on to say: ‘….the Trinity Well, a little to the South of the manse, of great renown in Popish days for the performing of miraculous cures, fortifying against plague, witchcraft and such other evils. The right of bleaching at this well is one of the privileges of the minister’.

The Rev. John Wilson writes, in The Gazetteer of Scotland: ‘…a noticeable object is a well famous in Roman times for alleged thaumaturgic properties…’.

Processions to the Well were made on Trinity Sunday and the first Sunday in June

References:

  1. The (First) Statistical Account of Scotland, 1796, Volume 18, page 487
  2. The New (Second) Statistical Account of Scotland, 1837, Volume 10, page 335
  3. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1981.
  4. Wilson, John, The Gazetteer of Scotland, W.A. & K. Johnston: Edinburgh 1882

© Paul Hornby, The Northern Antiquarian

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Auchingarroch, Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 78732 19579

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24795
  2. Roman Stone

Getting Here

Auchingarroch stone

The Auchingarroch stone

Take the B827 road south out of Comrie as if you’re heading towards Braco, and after a mile or so, as you start going uphill, turn left to go to the Wildlife Centre.  Go along the track and park up at the buildings.  The monolith is round the back of the first building (ask at the Centre, where the people there are very helpful).

Archaeology & History

F. Coles 19l1 sketch

F. Coles 19l1 sketch

Shown on the earliest Ordnance Survey map of the region as one of several ‘Roman Stone’ sites, this prehistoric upright is similar in size and feel to the other standing stones in the highly impressive Dunruchan complex close by.  The big fella stands on a raised piece of ground more than 8½ feet tall and, said Fred Coles (1911) has “a basal girth of 12ft 8ins.”  Quite a big stone!  A dubious large cup-mark is visible on the thin western face and three faint ones on its east.

The monolith is surrounded all along the southern landscape arc with forested moorland and low mountains, with the primary extended views reaching mainly into the north and western arc.  Although a rounded hillock immediately southwest of the stone looks promising, no calendrical or astronomical alignments have been found here.

Folklore

Auchingarroch, looking SW

Auchingarroch, looking SW

As with the other standing stones in this region, legend ascribes it as marking the resting place of a Roman soldier who fell in a great battle close by with our local heathens, in what was known as “battle of Mons Grampius.”

References:

  1. Coles, F.R., “Report on stone circles in Perthshire principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  2. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  3. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Phillips: Crieff 1896.

AcknowledgementsThanks to Paul Hornby for the journey here; and more especially a different sorta thanks to Linzi Mitchell for her influence whilst the site profile of this megalithic erection was being written. Who sez that men can’t do two things at the same time?!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Robin Hood & Little John, Castor, Northamptonshire

‘Standing Stones’:  OS Grid Reference – TL 1395 9839

Also Known as:

  1. St. Edmund’s Stones

Archaeology & History

1885 OS-map of the site

1885 OS-map of the site

A curious and intriguing site with as many questions about its nature as there is its folklore.  Moved around by the irritating parliamentarians from Huntingdonshire, to Northants to Cambridge nowadays, one wonders where those fools will place it next!  Listed by a number of archaeologists as prehistoric standing stones, it seems pretty obvious from photos and the descriptions of many amateur students that—unless some original monoliths have been reworked a few centuries back—the narrative given by local historian W.H.B. Saunders (1888) outlines their more probable origin and history.  That’s not to say that the stones aren’t old—just not that olde…. Mr Saunders reasoned that they were dug and transported from more than 5 miles northwest of their present spot, telling that:

“Nothing can rob the stones of their undoubted antiquity.  The Barnack quarries have been exhausted for the last 600 years at least.  It is evident therefore, that the stones were placed in their present position at a time when the Barnack quarries were being worked.  That would be in the days of Robin Hood, and also when the Abbey of St. Edmund’s Bury, built of Barnack stone, was being erected.”

His words make sense when you look at the stature of the monoliths in question.  They’re cut and squared to the edges, with Robin Hood being the taller of the two stones, about 30 feet southwest of the Little John stone.  They have been written about quite extensively by historians down the centuries, from William Camden onwards.  One early account of the stones was written by Symon Gunton (1686) who told:

“I find in the charter of King Edward the confessor…that the abbot of Ramsey should give to the abbot and convent of Peterburgh 4000 eeles in the time of Lent, and in consideration thereof the abbot of Peterburgh should give to the abbot of Ramsey as much freestone from his pitts in Bernack, and as much ragstone from his pitts in Peterburgh as he should need.

“Nor did the abbot of Peterburgh from these pits furnish only that but other abbies also, as that of St. Edmunds-Bury: in memory whereof there are two long stones yet standing upon a balk in Castor-field, near unto Gunwade ferry; which erroneous tradition hath given out to be draughts of arrows from Alwalton church-yard thither; the one of Robin Hood, and the other of Little John; but the truth is, they were set up for witnesses, that the carriages of stone from Bernack to Gunwade-ferry, to be conveyed to S. Edmunds-Bury, might pass that way without paying toll; and in some old terriars they are called St. Edmund’s stones.  These stones are nicked in their tops after the manner of arrows, probably enough in memory of S. Edmund, who was shot to death with arrows by the Danes.  The balk they stand upon is still call’d St Edmund’s Balk.  They are supposed to be the petrify’d arrows of those two famous archers.”

Thom's sketch showing his midwinter alignment

Thom’s sketch showing his midwinter alignment

These traditions have subsequently been copied by all local historians.  So it is something of a curiosity to find our archaeologists—from Clarke (1960) and F.M. Pryor (1972) to Aubrey Burl (1993)—to cite these as prehistoric monoliths.  My suspicions as to their reasons relates to the folklore of the stones which are echoed at many truly prehistoric places like the Devil’s Arrows, etc.  The nature of the tale is an aboriginal creation myth, relating to the formation of sites as understood in animistic mythic structures.  But this archaeological misunderstanding brought the more scientific mathematical mind of Alexander Thom (1990:1) here in the 1980s where coincidence showed a common astronomical alignment.  Thom wrote:

“Clearly visible from the site, at an azimuth of 229°.22 is the lowest point of a low saddle on the horizon.  The col, Fig.1 (above), subtends an arc of about 0°.67 of azimuth, observed minimum altitude 0°.21.  For an estimated temperature of 44°F, correction for refraction at sunset is about 0°.54, and for solar and semi-diameter and parallax of respectively 0°.27 and 0°.002, the ‘observed’ declination is found to be -23°.92, which indicates a date of about 1860 BC.

“No presently obvious horizon marker was evident upon inspection of the open fields forming the horizon, but this does not mean that a foresight was never erected.  Without the evidence of a foresight it cannot be claimed that the two stones were placed for accurate calendrical reasons, but undoubtedly they indicate by themselves the winter solstice.”

The folklore may indicate the possibility that these two medieval standing stones replaced earlier ones, but no remains of such relics exist today.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Clarke, R. Rainbird, East Anglia: Ancient Peoples and Places, Thames & Hudson: London 1960.
  3. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Northamptonshire, Cambridge University Press 1975.
  4. Grinsell, Leslie V., Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, David & Charles: London 1976.
  5. Gunton, Symon, The History of the Church of Peterburgh, Richard Chiswell: London 1686.
  6. Mee, Arthur, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, Hodder & Stoughton: London 1973.
  7. Morton, John, The Natural History of Northampton-shire; with Some Account of the Antiquities – 2 volumes, R. Knaplock: London 1712.
  8. Pryor, F.M., Prehistoric Man in the Nene Valley, Nene Valley Research: Peterborough 1972.
  9. Saunders, W.H.B., Legends and Traditions of Huntingdonshire, Simpkin Marshall: London 1888.
  10. Serjeantson, R.M. (ed.), The Victoria County History of Northamptonshire – volume 2, London 1906.
  11. Thom, Alexander, Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 1, BAR: Oxford 1990.
  12. Thom, A.S., “A Solstitial Site near Peterborough,” in Journal of the History of Astronomy, 11, 1980.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Arncliffe, Littondale, North Yorkshire

‘Carved Stone’:  OS Grid Reference – unknown

Archaeology & History

The Arncliffe Carving

The Arncliffe Carving

This is a frustrating site entry.  Not only do we not know where it is, this carving is not listed in any of the modern books on British petroglyphs, yet it was described and referenced by the famous archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes following its discovery more than 80 years ago.  After a brief mention of the carving in Frank Elgee’s (1933) Archaeology of Yorkshire, an article describing the carving was penned in the journal Man, from which I draw the only information available. It appears to have been found in the early 1930s (no date or discoverer is cited), but has a couple of peculiarities which may bring the authenticity of the stone into question.  Mrs Hawkes (1934) told that the carved stone was,

“found in the bed of a moorland beck in the village of Arncliffe, Littondale, West Riding of Yorkshire.  It is of buff-coloured limestone measuring 21 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches in thickness; the decorated surface is almost flat.  The curvilinear pattern is executed in regular incisions about 4mm wide and 3mm deep; portions of it have been obliterated by water actions and, as is illustrated in the illustration, at one end the surface has broken away altogether.  The whole stone has been much battered and may well be only a fragment of a much larger one.  The state of preservation suggested that it had been in the stream for a considerable period; it is therefore probable that it was washed down from the open moorland above Arncliffe.  In the original (carving), the design is more coherent than it here appears owing to the fact that in the water-worn portions faint lines are visible to the eye which cannot be shown on a tracing.

“Mr W.J. Hemp, who has kindly examined the Arncliffe tracing, identifies the style of the design with the ‘entrail’ pattern of the well-known Pattern Stone from the chambered cairn of Bryn Celli Ddu in Anglesey…

“The technique of the Arncliffe tracing is comparable with the simple incisions which form the oldest of the four techniques recognizable in the Irish megalithic tumuli, where its early date is indicated by the fact that some examples are demonstrably older than the construction of the tumuli in which they occur…

“Mr Frank Elgee, who has also been good enough to comment on the Arncliffe tracing, cannot suggest immediate comparisons from this neighbouring group (around Ilkley, PB), but such evidence as there is he considers to be against assigning a date earlier than the MIddle Bronze Age.”

The late great Eric Cowling also mentioned the stone in his prehistoric survey of the mid-Pennines, but added no further details of his own and seems to have just copied what we have just read.

The fact that the ‘carving’ was found in a stream-bed may mean that the markings on the stone were due to natural erosion; and the fact that the rock was limestone may give added weight to this idea.  However, the fact that Mrs Hawkes, Frank Elgee and W.J. Hemp thought the carving to be authentic cannot be overlooked.  The area is also rich in prehistoric remains (see Douky Bottom, Dewbottoms, Yockenthwaite, Blue Scar, etc)  The design itself is an odd one and has none of the traditional hallmarks consistent with neolithic and Bronze Age cup-and-ring stones, but seems more reminiscent of much earlier mesolithic and palaeolithic images of carved animals and dancing human figures.

If anyone knows more about this site, particularly its whereabouts (perhaps in private possession or hiding in some museum box, where increasing numbers of cup-and-rings are wrongfully kept), or whether the ‘carving’ has been disregarded as little more than natural weathering, it would be good to know for certain.

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Elgee, Frank & Harriet, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  3. Hawkes, Jacquetta, “A Prehistoric Carved Stone in Littondale,” in Man, volume 34, 1934.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Holy Well, Longthorpe, Peterborough, Northamptonshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid-Reference – TL 1678 9815

Also known as:

  1. St. Cloud’s Well

Getting Here

From Thorpe Green, Longthorpe, then take the Larklands road.  Once a copse of trees appears at the front near a T-junction, the well can be accessed to the side of this wood.

Archaeology & History

The well was enclosed in grounds belonging to St John family, an estate laid out in a style similar to the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall. Within these grounds was an 18th century summerhouse, which has now vanished. A distillery was established here by a Doctor Skirmshire, who lived at Longthorpe, for making ‘considerable quantities of lavender and peppermint, cultivated in adjacent fields..’ (Arrowsmith n.d.).

Sadly, there appear to be no ancient records which justify ascribing an ancient date to the Holy Well complex. Indeed, it would appear to be contemporary with the summerhouse. Perhaps it was built to provide a folly-hermitage to support the legend? It is said that the summerhouse was demolished in the mid-ninteenth century because of the disorderly proceedings undertaken in it by visitors from Peterborough! According to Thompson (1913), the dressed stone was used for the kitchen floor of the nearby Manor House.

Thompson gives a plan of the well along with an accurate description, which luckily does not differ from the sight which greets the visitor today (although there is now an ugly metal gate on the structure):

‘The subterranean chambers constitute a medley of design and structure; they are not caves, although now underground, but were apparently first built….

The walls and domed roofs consist of undressed stone. The passage from the pool runs in a direction of N 60 W, and is some six feet long. The entrance being two feet four inches wide by five feet high. The first chamber or antechamber is mostly to the left and nearly at right angles to the passage; it is approximately ten feet by eight feet. In this there is a window high up, evidently a more recent introduction, for the frame is of dressed stone, and the rough stone roof cuts across it, so that external appearance rather than internal use would appear to have been the dominating factor in its design. On the opposite wall of the window is a doorway, and at one time evidently a door, for one stone jamb of dressed stone is left. This doorway opens into the very irregular second or main chamber, roughly twenty feet long, by fifteen feet wide near the widest part. Immediately within the doorway is a well, with dressed stone curb, of three feet internal diameter, and exactly above, in the roof is another smaller circular opening lined with dressed stone as though arranged to draw water from the well from the mound above without going into the chamber, but this is not now open. The well is now choked with stones, but the water used to overflow from the well and run down the passage way to the pool outside, it now flows out oat a lower level leaving the passage way dry. Immediately on the right, after entering the large chamber is am opening leading to a third chamber, smaller, crudely oval, but an indescribable shape, approximately eight to nine feet one way by twelve feet another.

Comparing Thompson’s description and the photograph, one can note a few differences, the main one being that the site in general has become noticeably overgrown. The wall which appears to run along one side has become overgrown and derelict, the pool overgrown, and rubbish-strewn. Within the structure, the curbed well has gone and now one can see the water bubbling from the rock.

Folklore

One side of this is the opening, now blocked up, to a supposed underground passage to Peterborough Cathedral, by which the monks of the Abbey of Burgh, were said to come and bathe in the pool….

To the left of this large chamber, on entering the latter, is a recess some fifteen feet wide and nine feet deep, with a floor consisting essentially of two steps, both apparently of ‘live’ rock, i.e. rock in situ; the upper step being the wider and more like a dais. There is a rather small opening high up on the outer wall of this recess, some five feet from the dais, and is about seventeen inches wide by twenty two feet high, but goes four feet or more in the thickness of the wall or mound without providing an external opening.’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe site’s greatest fame stems from the tunnel mentioned above by Thompson, which is said to run from the Holy Well to the Abbey at Peterborough. A blocked-up doorway in the third chamber is described as the entrance to this tunnel, although one can imagine that the nature of the whole edifice would lend to such a belief. Certainly records show that the Abbey was supplied by a conduit at the Infirmary end of the Chapel of St Lawrence. However, it is more likely that this took its waters from the St Leonard’s Well at Spital, whose water also filled the Boroughbury Pools and Swan’s Pool.

Yet records show that the Abbey was interested in the site. During Abbot Godfreys tenure, in 1130s the following document states:

Amos ejus viii inclusat porceum Burgi Sumptus iiij I lb: xv sol. Item feat fossutum salveunium inter Thorpe fen et le Dom Sumptus xx sol‘.

Anon 1904-6

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This enclosure cost four pounds and fifteen shillings. Under Abbot Gyerge another document notes the extent of this land (Halywelle), of four acres, three rood and twenty pearches, which until the building of the estate remained the same (Anon 1904-1906). Yet neither of these documents explicitly refers to the laying of a conduit.

The only possible justification for this belief came in November 6th 1964, when workmen, excavating to set up telephone kiosks beside the old Guildhall on Cathedral square, unearthed an underground passage. This continued for twenty five feet under church street, and ran parallel to land belonging to the Almoner’s Garden that was exchanged in the 1194-1200 agreement between the Abbot and the Vicar of Burgh and Longthorpe.  Unfortunately, the underground passage turned out to be some kind of eighteenth century fire precautions.

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Much of the site’s folklore and history derives from a story entitled The Knight of the Red Cross, a story based in the twelfth century, in Richard I’s reign. There is some confusion about the place where this work is published. Thompson (1913)  in his Peculiarities of water and wells states that it is contained within a work called Wild flowers gathered: original pieces in prose and rhyme, printed by J. S. Clarke, with no author or date; whereas  Arrowsmith (n.d) states it comes from a similarly titled, A list of wild flowers found in the neighbourhood of Peterborough, by F. A. Paley. Arrowsmith further notes that the work is advertised on the back of the same author’s Notes on twenty Parish churches round Peterborough, published in 1859. Unfortunately, I have been unable to trace either of these to confirm which is the right source. How much the story is based on any ancient account is unclear. It may be ‘faction’ or fiction, a problem of course with many sites. The applicable parts are produced below as Thompson (1913) notes:

“There is a beautiful spot, called Holywell, in the neighbourhood of Peterborough, well known, and much frequented by the inhabitants. The road lies through a pleasant park, where stands an ancient edifice belonging to the Fitzwilliam family, called Thorpe Hall… After passing the front of this mansion, turn to the left, by the stables and outer buildings will lead, through a white gate, to a small green field from whence this picturesque little spot is seen, with its ivy clad walls, and its dark cypress and yew trees, casting their gloomy shadows around. Passing some broken steps which form the entrance, a shady path conducts to a modern niche, supported by two pilasters, over a slab pavement to a stone basin about six feet in depth and thirty in circumference. This is constantly supplied with clear water, running from the mouth of a subterraneous passage which connects Holywell with the cathedral of Peterborough. An artificial mound of earth is thrown up above this cavity, which is covered with creepers, ground-ivy and a few wild flowers.

Contiguous to the basin are some small fish ponds, partially shaded by beautiful trees; and the green rushes which grow at their bank form undisturbed retreat in which the moor-hen builds her solitary nest. A little further on is a piece of an old pillar, which is gracefully overhung with a wreath of ivy… An old wall surrounding Holywell on two sides, in which traces of windows and doorways are still discernible, is the last feature we shall mention.”

Arrowsmith (n.d) states that these pools have been called ‘Monk’s Stew Ponds’ or ‘Paradise Ponds’, although Arrowsmith considers that the long distance from the Abbey makes it unlikely, as the Abbey was close to good fishing waters  He continues, ‘The waters of this well were formerly in high repute, and were much frequented by those who came on pilgrimages’

Its waters, according to Thompson (1913), are said to be slightly ferruginous, though he detected no sign of it, and nor did I. It was also thought to be efficacious for gout, rheumatism, skin diseases, and good for eyes.

It was believed that a Hermit, called St Cloud, lived at the site. Thompson (1913) continues, quoting J. S. Clarke, that he was ‘of great celebrity, whose pious councils and paternosters were generally in request amongst all pilgrims who visited the spot.’

Some authorities, such as Arrowsmith, have identified this hermit as St Botolph, who is said to have lived within a mile of his chapel during its construction on the Thorpe Avenue site. He is associated with other wells, such as that at Hadstock, Essex, so it is not impossible.

References:

  1. Anonymous, “Holywell,” in Fenland Notes and Queries6, pp.22-4, 1904-6
  2. Arrowsmith, A. L., Longthorpe and its Environs: Microcosm of a Village, privately published: no date.
  3. Bord, J. and C., Sacred Waters, Granada: London 1985.
  4. Thompson, B., “The Peculiarities of Water and Wells,” in Journal of Northants Natural History Society and Field Club18(135), 1913.

Extracted and edited from the original post – Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

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Holy Well, Hollinshead Hall, Tockholes, Lancashire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference -  SD 6636 1994

Getting Here

Take the A675 road to Bolton from Abbey Village, going up the track opposite Piccadily farmhouse until you reach the ruins in the woods.  The site can also be reached by going south down the Tockholes Road car park following the sign for Hollinshead Hall on your right.

Archaeology & History

Hollinshead Hall

Hollinshead Hall

Associated with Hollinshead Hall, which is now a ruin, the well is made of the same sandstone rubble as the hall with a stone slate roof. The building a single cell is built into a slope from which the spring arises and is encapsulated by it. Either side a high walls creating a sort of forecourt with side benches with inward-facing chamfered piers with ball finials at the ends. The well house itself is quite an attractive building and is certainly not thrown up, having a symmetrical facade with chamfered unglazed widows which are fitted with spear-headed iron bars and clearly the building has never been glazed. The gable end has a large oval opening with a matching one at the rear. In the centre is a heavy board door with a chamfered doorway. This doorway unfortunately is locked baring any entrance to the well house.

Peering in through the windows one can see how strong the vaulted roof is, adorned by a pendent ball in its centre. The spring’s water flows from a crudely carved lion’s head, either side of a reredo of Ionic colonnettes, with a sunken stone tank beneath or each side a rectangular recess which enclose rectangular pools. There is a diamond-paved floor with a central gutter draining from this well or trough at centre of rear wall.

Local tradition accounts that there was a site here from Medieval times and indeed, that the name Hollinshead was derived from a version of holy well although O.E hol, for hollow is more likely although there is a Halliwell Fold Farm nearby being derived from O.E halig for healing. The pool with steps down above the well house may be the original well of course. The discovery of a hoard of medieval coins in 1970s would support the date and perhaps they were an offering.

Folklore

Abram’s Blackburn (1877) is perhaps the first to state that the water was curative. However, anonymous quote in Nightingales History of Tockholes  describes the well as:

“Here no less than five different springs of water, after uniting together and passing through a very old carved stone representing a lion’s head, flow into a well.  To this Well pilgrimages were formerly made and the water which is of a peculiar quality, is remarkable as an efficacious remedy for ophthalmic complaints.”

 Another tradition is that the site was a resting place for pilgrims to Whalley Abbey and that the trough was used as  baptistery, however, this would be more likely to be the spring above the well house.  It is probably a spring house, a structure built over a natural source of water for the storage of dairy products and other foods that needed to be kept fresh.

Reculsancy, was very prevalent in Lancashire and the well house does the bear the coat of arms of the Radcliffes . It would suggest why the structure is so ornate and suggest a 1600s date although many authorities suggest an 18th century origin.  The site would be a secret baptistery and its design as a dairy, would also help as well as being still function, certainly the presence of benches suggest this functionality. It appears to be too close to the house to be a garden folly such as a grotto! The suggestion of stained glass in the windows suggests something more significant discovered during the present stone roof’s construction. Indeed, the choice of the lion’s head is possibly that of the ‘Lion of Judah’, meaning Jesus providing rich and valuable water, although this is a common motif on many drinking fountains of course! Interesting, Cramshaw (1994) tells us that the site was in the 1980s the site of a well dressing, although what type is unclear and no other author has mentioned it as far as I am aware. Perhaps we shall never know the real origin of this delightful building.

References:

  1. Abram, William Alexander, History of Blackburn, Toulmin: Blackburn 1877.
  2. Billington, W.D., From Affetside to Yarrow, Ross Anderson: Bolton 1982.
  3. Crawshaw, J., “Hollinshead Hall Holy Well”, in Source new series Issue 2, Winter 1994.

Edited from – Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

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Elkington’s Track, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Prehistoric Trackway:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13169 44111 to SE 13321 44172

Getting Here

Mr Elkington's newly uncovered prehistoric track

Mr Elkington’s newly uncovered prehistoric track

Get yourself to the Roms Law circle, by hook or by crook.  Then take the long almost straight footpath south, as if you’re heading to the very damaged Horncliffe Well (thanks to Yorkshire Water).  You’ll notice the fencing that runs parallel to the path eventually.  Nearly 400 yards along the parallel fenced line you reach the first decent-sized stream.  From here, walk upstream, keeping to its northern edges for another 300 yards—then walk 10-20 yards into the heather.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

The site is named after Mr James Elkington who recently rediscovered this previously unmapped prehistoric trackway, close to where Burley Moor meets the western edge of Hawksworth Moor, on the greater Rombald’s complex.  And it’s a bloody good find if I might say so myself!  But, like so many sites covering the Rombald’s complex, it begs more questions than it answers.

2014 aerial view showing outline of trackway

2014 aerial view showing outline of trackway

2002 aerial view of trackway

2002 aerial view of trackway

The trackway is consistent in architectural design and dimensions with at least six of the eight prehistoric trackways that I’m aware of on these moors — none of which have ever been adequately mapped nor investigated by regional archaeologists (thankfully, there are folk like us around!).  This ninth trackway, upon initial investigation, may be the shortest of them all up here.

Section of large stones marking the track

Section of large stones marking the track

Overgrown section of track-edge

Overgrown section of track-edge

Elkington’s Track seems to begin its route about 10-20 yards north of the once large, fast-flowing stream of the Middle Beck—which in itself seems curious.  No trace of any trackway seems evident on the other side of this stream and there are no other prehistoric remains accounting for why it should begin here…

Walking along the track, it heads northeast for 80 yards, with low lines of raised parallel walling 4-5 yards apart defining the avenue, before it begins to bend round in a more easterly direction.  Thirty yards along this more easterly alignment, in the southern walled section, lays an eroded stone (SE 13255 44165) that seems to have stood upright in the not-too-distant past.  It seems to mark an opening or gap in the walled trackway and a large scatter of small stones, akin to the denuded remains of a cairn is evident just below the track at this point.  The raised embankment of the trackway keeps heading east, towards the line of Hawksworth Moor boundary stones.

More long line of walled edges

More long line of walled edges

Looking NE up the track

Looking NE up the track

Upon initial investigation, the trackway was visible for a minimum of 185 yards (169.4m) in length, whereafter any immediate trace of it disappeared into the ancient peat.  However, aerial views of it on GoogleEarth indicate a faint extension of the track, but these are difficult to apprehend at ground-level.  There is every possibility that this trackway eventually meets up with one of the four other prehistoric trackways near the Great Skirtful of Stones giant tomb, or even the North Road running past Roms Law—but until this can be ascertained, the trackway must be defined on its own merits.  Further heather-burning on the moors at either end would obviously enable a great examination of the remains.

In the event that the southernmost point of this trackway does begin above the Middle Beck stream, as seems apparent, we may be looking at a ceremonial trackway and not just a ‘road’ as we define them in the modern parlance of homo-profanus culture.  Think of it as a small version of The Avenue trackway that runs from Stonehenge outwards, past the Heel Stone and eventually bending down to the River Avon. (Burl 2006)  Y’ just never know…..

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, A Brief History of Stonehenge, Constable: London 2006.
  2. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  3. Raistrick, Arthur, Green Tracks on the Pennines, Dalesman: Clapham 1962.
  4. Wright, Geoffrey N., Roads and Trackways of the Yorkshire Dales, Moorland: 1985.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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