Healing Well: OS Grid Reference – NN 9703 0139
Also Known as:
1. Maiden Well
Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Maiden Castle fairy hill. About 100 yards before reaching the hill, on the right-hand side of the footpath between the tree-line and the small stream, you’ll see a small pool of water. This is Maiden’s Well.
Archaeology & History
A mile northeast of the faerie-haunted Butter Well, just on the border of Clackmannanshire and Perthshire, we find this little-known magickal spring. More than a century ago, the story of this remote well was heard about hundreds of miles away by one Rev. Andrew Clark of Oxford, “who heard it from the late sexton of the parish of Dollar, in the county of Clackmannan” and who then mentioned its existence to the great Victorian Celtic scholar John Rhys (1901), who subsequently wrote of it as being “a fine spring bordered with flat stones, in the middle of a neat, turfy spot”, close to the legendary faerie hall of Maiden Castle. The well itself has now given birth to a pool whose waters, so folklore and text ascribe, always provides good clear water even in the height of summer.
The local historian Hugh Haliburton (1905) told that the well obtained its name from a princess who was held captive in Castle Campbell in the valley to the southwest, and that she was sometimes allowed out of prison by her captors, to walk to the well and drink its waters.
This tale has been mentioned by various historians and, no doubt, has some religious relevance to the faerie lore of Maiden Castle, close by, Bruce Baillie (1998) told:
“A story associated with it states that it is haunted by the spirit of a beautiful maiden which only appears at night and, should any male attempt to kiss her, coronary thrombosis occurs.”!
Earlier accounts tell of magickal rites that could be used to invoke the beautiful maiden, but once again dire consequences may befall the poor practitioner.
To this day, local people visit the well and make offerings to the spirit of the waters, as you’ll see if you come here. Some of the remains here are very old; and a visit not long ago indicated that offerings were made even when surrounded by depths of snow in the middle of a freezing winter.
- Baillie, Bruce, History of Dollar, DMT: Dollar 1998.
- Fergusson, R. Menzies, The Ochil Fairy Tales, Clackmannan District Libaries 1985.
- Haliburton, Hugh, Excursions in Prose and Verse, G.A. Morton: Edinburgh 1905.
- Rhys, John, Celtic Folklore – Welsh and Manx: volume 1, Oxford University Press 1901.
- Watson, Angus, The Ochils: Placenames, History, Tradition, PKDC: Perth 1995.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian