Bishop’s Well, Dunblane, Stirlingshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NN 78126 01281

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24681

Archaeology & History

Bishop’s Well on 1899 map

This now-lost holy well was a place whose history was integrally tied to the adjacent and also destroyed Bishop’s Palace: a large ostentatious building that was already in ruins in 1579, just below Dunblane Cathedral. It was the water supply for the bishops who lived here; although exactly when it received its original dedication, and by whom, seems unknown.

The best description we have of it is in Alex Barty’s (1944) excellent history work on Dunblane, where he wrote:

“Perhaps the best-known well in Dunblane was the Bishop’s Well, in the Bishop’s Yard or Grassyard.  This well is now dry and the explanation is that it was fed by a strong stream from about Kirk Street which was incorporated into the town sewer when it was laid in Kirk Street.  There was a right-of-way, or at least a  privilege, held by some of the inhabitants to pass through the north end of the Manse ground out by a gate which still exists and down a path to the well.”

Mr Barty informed us that the line of the footpath was still visible in his day, but it has long since gone.  When Archie McKerrarcher (1992) wrote about the site, he described minor remains of it still extant, telling that “the Bishop’s Well can be seen marked by circular stonework in the grass”; but this has now also been destroyed.  One would think that the local christian community would at least have tried to preserve this ancient site.

References:

  1. Barty, Alexander B., The History of Dunblane, Eneas Mackay: Stirling 1944.
  2. Dennison, E.P. & Coleman, R., Historic Dunblane: The Archaeological Implications of Development, RCAHMS: Edinburgh 1997.
  3. McKerracher, Archie, The Street and Place-Names of Dunblane and District, Stirling District Libraries 1991.

Acknowledgements:  To Paul Hornby in his help seeking out this site; and to the staff at Dunblane Library.

© Paul BennettThe 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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