Lady Well, Headon, Nottinghamshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 748 779

Getting Here

Lady Well at Headon

The Lady Well at Headon

Follow the road around from Headon village to the Ladywell estate and on the left hand side is a small copse and footpath. It is near the junction of Greenspotts Lane and Lady Well Lane. Park carefully near here and walk down the small ravine to the well.

History & Archaeology

Only two dates can be confirmed of this site. One a reference in County records of mending a bridge to a ‘Ladyewell‘ in the nearby Markham parish, but this could easily be another site.  A better date is that  1718 which is carved on its arch. It was used as a source of water  until the 1930s. One of the most atmospheric and pleasantly situated sites, the spring is located in a small wooded dell and arises from the rock in a small alcove or cave.  This is fronted by a red brick arch, and the water fills a trough set partly into the ground with a small overflow lip and a channel to fill it, presumably this was for animals. On the key stone of the arch are the initials ‘HW’ and a date which possibly reads 1718.

Folklore

headonwelldress2000closerSlide2I have found no traditions of healing or other folk belief. However, the site was one of the few Nottinghamshire well dressing sites. This begun in 1981 and continued until 1991, and a one off for 2000 AD.  It was done on the weekend of the churches Patronal festival – St. Peter’s – and was used to use to pay for the church repairs. The well dressing boards were of a Derbyshire tradition as can be seen.

References:

  1. Parish, R.B, (2010) Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Nottinghamshire

Copyright © Pixyled Publications

Posted in Holy Wells, Nottinghamshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Alkmund’s Well, Derby, Derbyshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 351 371 

Geting Here

It can be found by taking North Street off Duffield Road (A6) continuing until it joins North Parade and here a little lane, called Well Street comes off and the spring is at the junction of this and Bath Street on the left hand side.

Archaeology & History

St. Alkmund's Well, Derby

St. Alkmund’s Well, Derby

First recorded in 1190 in a rental agreement but considering its association probably earlier. The well is dedicated to the Saxon saint who died 800 AD and whose tomb or shrine was located in church nearby (and is now located in the Derby Museum).  Little is recorded of its history however.

The well is below ground level with four steps to its water which flows with some force into an oval basin. A stone carving states its name. The plaque reads:

“Until the area was built up from 1814, the well was in a rural setting, part of St Helen‟s Park. The stone niche surrounding the well was built by the Rev Henry Cantrell in the early 18th century”.

It now sits rather incongruously in an area of urban landscape,  an odd juxtaposition amongst the older houses and tower blocks still exists, but is often prone to vandalism. and has suffered from it. Well dressings were discontinued due to vandalism and it was blocked off my tall metal fencing for a period recently. Now it is surrounded by a small wall and black railings which has blocked access but will protect it.

Folklore

Cox (1875–9) records that a vicar of S. Werburgh’s was cured of his low consumption, after constantly drinking its water, although the sign It has been traditionally dressed, revived in 1870 and continued infrequently until 1993, stopping because the boards were thoughtlessly vandalised. The demolishing of the St. Alkmund’s Church in the 1960s for road widening stopped the tradition of processing to the well. I was told by a local elderly lady that she still drank the water and that it was very pure…I was not sure myself!

References:

  1. Parish, R.B, (2010) Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Nottinghamshire

Copyright © Pixyled Publications

Posted in Derbyshire, Holy Wells | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Druidsfield (02), Lochearnhead, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 58759 23087

Also Known as:

  1. The Druidsfield 2 cup-marked stone

    The Druidsfield 2 cup-marked stone

    Canmore ID 24126

Getting Here

Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the much overgrown, earthfast Druidsfield 01 carving. Adjacent is an upstanding block of large rock, right next to which is the flat surface of this Druidsfield 2 carving. If it’s overgrown, rummage around. You can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

This carving and its compatriots have almost been forgotten about it seems.  Buried beneath rolls of vegetation, this long flat rock covered in cup-markings seems to have played a part in some larger megalithic structure—but whatever it was is difficult to work out.  As you walk around the place it gives the distinct impression that some form of tomb was once in evidence, which may have been the case.  The Scottish archaeology giant Audrey Henshall is said to have found no evidence of a chambered tomb, but this may have been something smaller, less impressive.

When Mr Haggart (1888) wrote about this carving, he too thought that the carvings had been part of a tomb—this being the horizontal surface at the bottom.  He wrote that,

“the one forming the floor area of the dolmen being a square-shaped boulder of diorite, having fifty cups, varying from three and a half inches to an inch in diameter, the outlines of which look as fresh as if chiselled a year or two ago.”

The main cluster of cups

The main gathering of cupmarks

This indicates it had only recently been uncovered.  There are lots of other archaeological remains scattered all round here, from different periods of history; but the other Druidsfield 1 and 3 carvings are found right next to each other, indicating this very spot was some site of neolithic or Bronze Age importance.  An accurate excavation of the site and the adjacent Druids Circle would be worthwhile.  I counted at least 44 cups on this rock when we visited last week, many of which are still quite clear.

The most recent Royal Commission (1979) briefing of the stone added nothing of relevance. They listed the site but it seems they never visited the place.

The portable bullaun-like deep-cut rock known as the Druid’s Stone is kept in private grounds nearby.  When members of Scottish heritage came to visit an adjacent site a few years ago, the lady of the house told how they walked right past it without giving it any notice. “They didn’t even see it under their noses,” she said.  Nowt new there!

Folklore

The carvings here were said by one of the locals to have been part of a “druid’s circle, which we played in as children, and were always told had been a special place of the druids in ancient times.”

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. Haggart, D., “Notice of the discovery of a stone cup and cup-marked stones at Lochearnhead,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 22, 1888.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Stirling District, Central Region, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 1979.

Acknowledgements – Huge thanks to Messr Paul Hornby for help and use of his photos.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cup-and-Ring Stones, Perthshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Druidsfield (01), Lochearnhead, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 58760 23087

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24126

Getting Here

Druidsfield Cup-Marked Stone

Druidsfield Cup-Marked Stone

From Lochearnhead village going south along the main A84 road to Callander or Stirling, take the very last road on the right just as you’re going out of the village, up o Craggan and park up by St. Angus’ Church. Walk back down onto the A84, turning right and walk along for 100 yards. Then go back up into a boggy field, where you’ll notice some walling above you. Head to the top right of this, up to the edge of a garden. Hereby is a cluster of rocks in a jumble. That’s your spot!

Archaeology & History

Cup-marks along the edge and bottom of the stone

Cup-marks along the edge and bottom of the stone

This takes a bit of finding in the undergrowth and is best checked out at the end of Winter.  Once overgrown it truly takes some finding.  But beneath the vegetation is a slender earthfast rock with a long ridge, a little bit like a spine, running from one end of the stone to the other.  Along this topmost spinal column we find a cluster of ten cup-markings, getting smaller in size the further along the spine we travel.  It’s a curious feature.  At the widest end of the rock where the widest and deepest cup-marks occur, another four cups have been etched into the northeastern sloping face below the largest cups.

When we came here, the sunlight was blocked by the surrounding trees, so we were unable to see if other elements had been carved onto the stone.  It is found in conjunction with two other rocks, right next to each other, with designs of very different visual structures, seemingly unconnected in any linear sense.  There also seemed to be a possibility that this was once part of a prehistoric tomb.  Later we found that both D. Haggart (1888) and Fred Coles (1911) had made similar comments, with Haggart specifically telling there to have been a collapsed tomb here in the 19th century.  He may have been right.  Extensive walled structures abound hereby−including one which old locals told us were remains of a Druid’s Circle, which we found close by.

Folklore

The carvings here were said by one of the locals to have been part of a “druid’s circle, which we played in as children, and were always told had been a special place of the druids in ancient times.”

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. Haggart, D., “Notice of the discovery of a stone cup and cup-marked stones at Lochearnhead,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 22, 1888.

Acknowledgements – Huge thanks to Messr Paul Hornby for help and use of his photos.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cup-and-Ring Stones, Perthshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dalchirla (east), Muthill, Perthshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NN 82274 16125

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25355

Getting Here

Dalchira's standing stones

Dalchira’s standing stones

Along the A822 road between Crieff and Muthill, take the small western country lane just as you’re coming out of Muthill. Nearly 2 miles on, take the turn to the right, and then 100 yards or so from there turn sharp left. Keep along this country lane for about a mile till you reach the third track on your left.  Walk down the track and you’ll see the standing stones in the field on your left. A gate into the field is by the house.

Archaeology & History

A fascinating pair of relatively large standing stones 317 yards (289.5m) SSE of the tall singular monolith of Dalchira North in the adjacent field.  Traditionally said to have once been part of s stone circle, it was marked as such when the Ordnance Survey lads came here in 1863, but there is very little evidence of such a megalithic ring today—and even the small stone lying in between the two uprights is probably a more recent addition to the site.  It certainly wasn’t mentioned by Fred Coles (1911) when he came here, who gave only a brief description of the place.

Dalchira East & the skyline notch of Lurgan Hill

Dalchira East & the skyline notch of Lurgan Hill

Dalchira, looking east

Dalchira, looking east

The stones were included in Margaret Stewart’s (1968) list of megalithic pairings as measuring 7ft 6in x 4ft 3in x 2ft and 4ft 3in x 3ft 6in x 1ft respectively, and 8ft apart.  There is a small stone laid down in between them which has cup-marks on it, but these indentations are natural nodules in conglomerate rock.  But the measurements and angles of Dalchira East were examined by the late great Alexander Thom (1967; 1990) who thought they had been positioned specifically to observe and predict lunar movements across the sky, saying that the alignment of these stones “shows the declination of the Moon rising at the minor standstill.”  He may have been right.

Thom's geometry of Dalchirla

Thom’s geometry of Dalchirla

In Aubrey Burl’s notes to Thom (1990) he told that the size and shapes of these stones “have been interpreted as anthropomorphic, the taller, or alternatively the more pointed , usually at the west, being the male, the lower or flat-topped he female.” He subsequently included this site in his own work on megalithic stone rows (Burl 1993), without further comment.

Tis a peculiar site inasmuch there doesn’t seem to be much ‘feeling’ to the place.  I’m sure the site is gonna have its days, but more than likely the neat and tidy farmed theatre has subsumed the genius loci to all but the most auspicious of times—most likely generated when the pull of the Moon still tugs at any geomagnetic background memory… Still, it’s definitely worth looking at.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Heggie, Douglas C., Megalithic Science: Ancient Mathematics and Astronomy in Northwest Europe, Thames & Hudson: London 1981.
  5. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Excavation of a Setting of Standing Stones at Lundin Farm near Aberfedly, Perthshire,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 98, 1966.
  6. Thom, Alexander, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford University Press 1967.
  7. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Perthshire, Standing Stones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newell’s Well, Glentham, Lincolnshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 981 897

Getting there

Newll's Well, Glentham

Newll’s Well, Glentham

Leave Glentham on the way to Caenby Corner. You pass a footpath marked on the right-hand side (it goes to Highfield farm). The road makes a bend to the right and then before a slighter turn to the left, just before this last bend there is a little lane to the right. Park safely here and then there is copse. You will need to scramble down there and follow the small stream to its source. It runs almost just under the road.

Archaeology & History

Many wells have associations with seasonal customs, but perhaps one of the most unusual traditions is that found in the Glentham Parish in Lincolnshire. Here can be found the Newell or Newell’s Well which had associated with it a rather unique custom: the ceremony of ‘Washing Molly Grime’ The tradition appears to have become confused over the centuries. A full account is recorded by a H. Winn in Notes and Queries (1888-9):

“The church of Glentham was originally dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, a circumstance obviously alluded to by a sculpture in stone of the Virgin supporting the dead Christ in her arms, still to be seen over the porch entrance and placed there by some early representative of the Tourneys of Caenby, who had a mortuary chapel on the north side of Glentham church. The washing of the effigy of the dead Christ every Good Friday, and strewing of his bier with spring flowers previous to a mock entombment, was a special observance here. It was allowed to be done by virgins only, as many desired to take part in the ceremony being permitted to do so in mourning garb. The water for washing the image was carried in procession from Neu-well adjacent. A rent was charged of seven shillings a year was left upon some land at Glentham for the support of this custom, and was last paid by W. Thorpe, the owner, to seven old maids for the performance of washing the effigy each Good Friday. The custom being known as Molly Grime’s washing led to an erroneous idea that the rent charge was instituted by a spinster of that name, but ‘Molly Grime’ is clearly a corruption of the ‘Malgraen’ i.e. Holy Image washing, of an ancient local dialect. About 1832 the land was sold without any reservation of the rent charge.”

The origin for the wells name is also confused.  Rudkin (1936) notes:

“They reckon it’s called Newell’s well on account of a man named Newell as left money to seven poor widow women..”

However, it is more likely to be simply new well, perhaps deriving its name from ‘eau’, a common word in the county.

When and why the tradition switched from washing the holy image to that supposedly of the Tourney (Lady Anne Tourney a local 14th century land owner) is unclear, but it is possible that the change occurred at the Reformation and that perhaps the money was given to wash both holy image and that of the benefactor and post Reformation only the benefactor washing survived. There is a similar tradition called the ‘Dusters’ in Duffield.  The name of the activity clearly survived as Rudkin that:

 “ they’d wash a stone coffin-top as in the Church; this ‘ere coffin-top is in the form of a women. ‘Molly Grime’ they calls it.”

The tradition even appears to have earned some note nationwide, for a nursery rhyme about the custom is known:

Seven old maids, Seven old maids,
once upon a time, Got when they came
Came of Good Friday, Seven new shillings
To wash Molly Grime, In Charity’s name,
The water for washing, God bless the water
Was fetched from Newell, God bless the rhyme
And who Molly was I never heard tell. And God bless the old maids that washed Molly Grime

Sadly the selling of the land appeared to killed off the tradition, except that between 2004 and 2007 a special Father’s Day race for women was established. This involved filling a balloon with water from Newell’s spring and the subsequent attempt for getting it back to the village without bursting it. In essence it remembered the tradition, but sadly it too appears to have fallen into abeyance.

Folklore

Another tradition in the village was that if one drank its waters one was said never to leave the village. A correspondent of Sutton (1997) states:

 “An old boy told me about the ‘healing well of Glentham. It was named after a saint but I can’t remember the name he used. Some folk call it Newell’s well. Many people came to take the healing waters and in the spring of the year, the Church held an annual service for ‘good water for the rest of the year’, the service marked a new year of the waters. The well was dressed in a traditional way using clay and flower petals to make some kind of picture, usually a saint. I’m told it look very impressive”

This is presumably before the site was enveloped in scrub as it is now. The report is interesting for a number of reasons; firstly because the correspondent refers to the waters as healing, secondly that it was dedicated to a saint and thirdly the account of well dressing more reminiscent of Derbyshire, and as far as I am aware it is only such example, as well dressing at Welton and Louth appeared to be more garland related. None of these observations have been made elsewhere which either casts doubt in the correspondent or more likely the patchy nature of well traditions in the county.

Despite the loss of the custom, the well still survives, the water clear and flowing arises beneath a stone built chamber of seven courses of stonework with a small square outlet through which the water flows.    However, according to recent reports boring in the vicinity has resulted in the water being drained away but I have been unable to ascertain this.

(Essay from the book by R.B. Parish – Holy Wells and healing springs of Lincolnshire)

References:

  1. Parish, R.B., Holy Wells and healing springs of Lincolnshire
  2. Reynolds, Jeff, Glentham Parish Council – Persnoal Comm.
  3. Rudkin, E.H., (1936) Lincolnshire Folklore
  4. Sutton, M., (1996) A Lincolnshire Calendar
  5. Winn, H (1888-9) in Notes and Queries

Links:

  1. Holy and Healing Wells
  2. In Search of Traditional Customs and Ceremonies

Copyright © Pixyled Publications

Posted in Holy Wells, Lincolnshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Well, Lower Burnham, Haxey, Lincolnshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SE 785 021

Also Known as:

  1. Alley Well

Getting There

Often noted under Lower Burnham, although this is a hamlet and not strictly the parish, is in Haxey.  The spring can be found by taking the footpath after Starkey’s farm, top of Holy Well lane, with Holy Well House the nearest dwelling.

Archaeology & History

Holy Well, Haxey

Holy Well, Haxey

Potentially if Hunt (1923) quoted in Hills (1967) is to be believed, this is the most famed holy well in the county, as he believes that this was the site where King Oswald—later St Oswald—was slain and here the well was St Oswald’s Well rather than at Oswestry. He notes that:

“The Holy Well at Lower Burnham in the parish of Haxey is supposed to mark the site where King Oswald fell. People took away the soil until a deep hole was formed which filled with water…It has been known for 1300 years as the Holy Well, and annual feasts were held near it until recent years. This confirms the Ven. Bede’s statement about the sanctity of the soil in the eyes of the people.”

According to Garner (1991) by the early 19th century the well’s popularity had waned and the spring fell into private ownership and the water was used to run two water mills, and as such a gully of considerable depth constructed. However the spring did not produce enough continuous water and the scheme failed. A similar attempt was made by Rev. Thomas Skipworth Rector of Belton was more successful but only because a dam was constructed although still the power was not great enough. Interest in the well had not completely disappeared, and an announcement in 1875, in the Epworth Bells stated:

“Firmly believing in the efficacy of the Burnham water in the cure of some outward bodily complaints, we sometime since urged the importance of making that water once more available to the public, and at the same time we urged the desirability of the public availing themselves of the water.”

Responding to this plea, a group of local men, Cooper, Starkey, Ducker, Skelton, Meggitt and Templerton came together to ‘re-open the well’ It had been for years only a dry, roughly rectangular, hollow but ‘within minutes of digging, water gushed out, and the hollow filled.’ No evidence of constructional material was seen but the landowner, Mr. Lockwood, agreed to allow the well to be kept open and the water to be freely available when he did not have cattle in the field, as such the well was fenced in probably as local people reported in the Crowle Advertiser (1960) with white railings. Indeed, up until the 1940s the well remained fenced off with barbed wire as a cattle water place and at some point it was filled in.

This meant that the well had again fallen into disused and its exact location was perhaps becoming unclear, when in the 1960s when three Epworth men, Frank and David Lindley with Jack Warriner.  A report in the Crowle Advertiser of 1960 noted that:

“At a spit depth, what seem to be known locally as water stones began to be turned up; at about two feet six there was a promising slab, followed by another, at a little deeper level; and after discovery of several hand-made bricks had dispirited the diggers somewhat, three more irregular shaped stones of considerable size were scraped clean of the mud that overlaid them. By now there was bared to view what could have been the stepped entrance to the well which from visual testimony of old residents, the explorers hoped to find.”

This stepped entrance consisted of eight steps according to local people. The group then discovered at about four feet timber was found and on this two corner stones were found rested. This was thought to have been the remains of the enclosure which went around the well.

In March 1961 another attempt was made to open the well in view of a pilgrimage by the Lincoln Diocesan Youth Pilgrimage, this time the excavators had gone twice as deep and the strata of waterstone was hit, but no evidence of a constructed well. This was not a concern of the Vicar of Owston Ferry, Canon L. D. Ravins who was of the opinion that an actual construction would have been unlikely if the above description by Hunt was to have happened. This time according to the Crowle Advertiser:

“Both he and Canon Ravins feel that the water may well have medicinal qualities (they noticed they say an unmistakably sulphurous smell from it during the excavations) and they are intending to have the chemical analysis made.”

However, the analysis did not reveal any sulphur but it did have Magnesium and Calcium sulphates and Calcium bicarbonate all linked to spa waters and hence verifying its medicinal role. The well was visited by the pilgrimage and Garner (1991) recollects that a white timber enclosure was placed around the site with a sign proclaiming ‘The Holy Well’ according to him the ‘whole site now barely discernible save for a lone willow sentinel-like over the place revered by myriad generations in days long since past.’

However, this was not the case when I visited the site and found a large pool with a pipe at one end, from which a channel appeared to flow.  Although Garner (1991) noted a ‘few elder citizens of Burnham strongly favour its position a few metres south of the spot popularly referred to”.

Folklore

However this name has not been recorded and the site is best known simply as the holy well. This site was, according to Gutch & Peacock (1908),

“ …dedicated to the ever-blessed Redeemer, and on the festival of His Ascension was supposed to possess the power of healing all sorts of deformities, weaknesses, and cutaneous diseases in children, numbers of which were brought from all parts to be dipped in it on that day.”

The earliest mention appears to be Peck (1809) who stated:

“a Spring called the Alley Well of very cold water which was very much resorted to by the people in their neighbourhood, being very proper for those of a weakly habit.”

Stonehouse (1839) notes:

“about one hundred and twenty years ago, the concourse of visitors was so great that a Village Feast was held at the same time… and at a much later period conveniences were annually made for the use of the bathers, and gingerbread-stalls and other slight reflections were provided on the spot. This practice has, however, of late years fallen altogether into disuse… The spring now appears in a dirty and neglected state.”

The fame of the spring led to it being immortalised in Hamilton’s novel Captain John Lister where the titular hero watches during the early morning of Haxey Fair, a melancholy procession through the main street of women, accompanied by diseased and deformed children. In the book, the innkeeper explains by saying:

‘They are going to the Holy Well at Nether Burnham. ‘Tis a famous spring, and has been many ages, and on this day there is virtue in the water to cure almost any disease or sickness in a child, if be dipped before noon…out of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire and I don’t know where all.’

(Essay taken from R.B. Parish Holy Wells and healing springs of Lincolnshire)

References:

  1. Garner, J. R. (1991) Burnham – the story of an Axholme village.
  2. Gutch, E. & Peacock, M. (1908) Country Folklore Vol. VI: Folklore of Lincolnshire
  3. Hills, P.J. (1967) The Holy Well of Burnham the site of the Battle of Maserfield-the identification re-examined.
  4. Stonehouse, W.B. (1839), The History and Topography of the Isle of Axholme.
  5. Various anonymous cuttings from Crowle Advertiser (1960)

Links:

  1. Holy and Healing Wells

Copyright © Pixyledpublications

Posted in Holy Wells, Lincolnshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment