Holy Well: OS Grid Reference – NO 45252 21483
If travelling from Dundee or Newport, turn right into Meadow Road, the last turning before the roundabout in the middle of the town. On the right is a large white-painted building where bicycles are sold. The site of St Bunyan’s Well is on the patch of empty land opposite, to the left nearest the road.
Archaeology & History
The Well is named in conjunction with the ninth century Culdee chapel of St Bunyan on the nearby Temple Hill, now known as School Hill. St Bunyan has been remembered by various alternative names: Bunoc, Bonac, Bonoc, Bonnoch, Bunan, Bernard and Bennett, and W. Reid noted in 1909,
“A crown charter of 1539 refers to a yearly market on St. Bonoc’s Day, and a further reference to the Chapel of St Bonach occurs in the confirmation of a charter by James VI.”
Forbes’ Kalendars of Scottish Saints records, under the entry for Saint Bonoc that one of the Endowments of Saint Fergus at St Andrews was the jawbone of Saint Bonoc, given by Bishop David Rhynd.
The mid nineteenth century Ordnance Survey Name Book correspondents Messrs. Pillans and Keddie described the well: “In the village of Leuchars. A excellent Spring Well in the village of Leuchars it is built round with cut stones, and is Kept in good repair by the inhabitants. the date when it was first Constructed is not known but it said to have been before the reformation, dedicated to St. Bunyan hence its name.”
The Reverend Kettle in the Old Statistical Account for Leuchars adds: “There is a most excellent well flowing with an abundant Stream of Soft water near the west en of the village (for the village is now extending westward) called by the name of the saint to whom the Chapel was no doubt consecrated.”
An elderly couple whom I met remembered a small well-house, but I didn’t ask them when it was demolished. The Saint is remembered in Leuchars by the road name of a modern development in St Bunyan’s Place. St Bunyan’s Well probably dried up as a result of the increased water demand following the establishment of RAF Leuchars in 1920. The Saint now has his waters extracted by Scottish Water’s Meadow Road Pumping Station.
- Reid, William., “Notice of the Discovery of a Group of Full-Length Stone Cists at the School Hill, or Temple Hill, Leuchars“, in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 43, 1909.
- Forbes, Alexander Penrose, Kalendars of Scottish Saints, Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh, 1872
© Paul T. Hornby, The Northern Antiquarian