Jinny Well, Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 82377 39458

Getting Here

Easy to locate: it’s just by the roadside on the left-hand side of the road, Jinny Lane, coming out of the village, just after the last house where the field begins.

Archaeology & History

Nowt to write home about, as they say.  The waters here trickle from the earth into an old stone trough — but they don’t look too appetizing (even I didn’t have a drink, which is something of a rarity!).  Its the folktale accompanying this little site, giving a distinct hint of some heathen past, that I found intriguing.

Folklore

Here was once the spirit of a woman called Jinny – who gave her name to the road it’s on – that wandered betwixt the well and an old stone, once found further up the hillside (after a bitta digging, we found the remains of the old stone, previously an authentic monolith). It was said that if you wandered along the road on certain moonlit nights, her spirit would chase you. To make matters worse, the ghost was a headless one!

Jinny’s spirit originally resided, peacefully, in the broken old stone atop of the hill. At a certain time of the year, the spirit of the stone would venture downhill to drink from the waters here (much as we find at Rollright and other places). But one day a xtian priest came along and, because of its heathen association, broke the old stone in half and cursed the spirit which roamed between the sites. Thereafter, Jinny’s ghost wandered in torment, with her head hacked off, scaring people half to death when they saw her. And so, another priest was eventually called who, to the satisfaction of local people, eventually put Jinny’s ghost to rest, as they say. It seems to have been a successful ritual, as no-one has reporting seeing the headless ghost for many a long year.

References:

  1. Byrne, Clifford H., Newchurch-in-Pendle: Folklore, Fact and Fiction, Marsden Antiquarians: Nelson 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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About megalithix

Prehistorian and independent archaeological researcher, specializing in prehistoric rock art, Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age sites, and the animistic cosmologies of pre-Christian & traditional cultures.
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