Holy Well (lost): OS Grid Reference – NZ 52 03?
Archaeology & History
Not marked on any map of the area (that I can find), this little-known possible holy well is described just once in one of Mr Blakeborough’s (1912) numerous regional history tomes. Although he doesn’t explore the origin of the well’s name (which we find repeated at other water sources in northern Britain), the Scottish writers, Ruth & Frank Morris (1982) tell how examples of wells with this name in Scotland owe their names to the curious early christian figure of St. Brendan, whose annual saint’s day is May 16. Whether this applies here I cannot tell.
We need some help locating the place, as it seems to have fallen off the radar. The best I can do is give Mr Blakeborough description, who wrote of this Brandy Well:
“Speaking of superstitions reminds me of a tradition that the water in Brandy Well, half way up Carlton Bank, has most wonderful curative properties, and that a wish made here when drinking, is pretty certain to be fulfilled. The well is by the road side and the water is no doubt just about as pure as it could possibly be, coming as it does, after much filtering through peat, straight from the hills. There may be something more than mere superstition in the health giving properties of this water, especially in conjunction with the climb up the hill amid pine trees and the inhaling of the invigorating air.”
Its exact location is difficult to pin down. There is no sign of any Well along the roadside between Carlton village and where the road eventually levels out on the northwest side of the hill. It certainly isn’t the Mere Beck Spring on the south-side of the hill (is that still there and what is its history?); but there is however a ‘Spring’ shown on the early OS-maps on the east-side of the hill, along an old track at roughly NZ 52233 02357. Could this be it? Or has the old Brandy Well been destroyed? In an area littered with prehistoric and mythic sites, it would be good to relocate this one.
- Blakeborough, J. Fairfax, Life in a Yorkshire Village, Yorkshire Publishing: Stockton-on-Tees 1912.
- Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian