Marion’s Well, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Healing Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 8926 7977

Archaeology & History

Marion's Well on 1864 map

Marion’s Well on 1864 map

Recorded in 1860 by the Ordnance Survey and highlighted several years later, this Marionesque potential of a holy well is not thought to derive its name from the usual Catholic pantheon—but it’s close!  It was obviously an important water source for the people of Falkirk in early times and its clear waters were used to supply an early washing house close by (as shown on the map).  Now completely built over where the B8080 meets the roundabout east of the town centre, the best literary account we have was penned by the regional historian Robert Gillespie (1879) who, in his survey of the area, told us:

“Of Marion’s Well there is scant record.  According to tradition it got its name from Marion Livingston—a nun of the house of Callendar who, in the performance of the sacerdotal vow which kept her from the world, visited the well at intervals and used its soft waters as a pediluvium.   The original well which was built round with stone, stood at the bottom of the Cladden’s Brae, on the bank of the East Burn.  It was further protected by a circle of upright slabs—the great resting place of the water maids and the scene of many a happy ‘touzle’ as the stoups or pitchers were sent rolling and rattling down into the brawling brook.”

Marion's Well, c.1900

Marion’s Well, c.1900

The element of locals “touzling” here simply means that it was a meeting place for young lovers. (Grant 1973; Wright 1905)  Although quite what Gillespie meant when he said it was surrounded “by a circle of upright slabs” is anyone’s guess!  Was this architectural element constructed in the post-medieval period, or was it much much older…?

In the old photo of the well here, Scott & Astbury (1990) said how it,

“shows the trough of the well after it had been moved to the south side of Callender Road and shows a horse pulling a Barr’s cart at the trough.  The view looks down what is now Corporation Street to the bridge over the East Burn.”

References:

  1. Gillespie, Robert, Round about Falkirk, Dunn & Wright: Glasgow 1879.
  2. Grant, William & Murison, David (eds.), The Scottish National Dictionary – volume 9, SNDA: Edinburgh 1973.
  3. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.
  4. Reid, John, The Place-Names of Falkirk and East Stirlingshire, Falkirk Local History Society 2009.
  5. Scott, Marion & Astbury, Tom, Falkirk’s Yesterdays, FDD: Falkirk 1986.
  6. Wright, Thomas (ed.), English Dialect Dictionary – volume 6, Henry Frowde: Oxford 1905.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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About megalithix

Occultist, 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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