Tun Well, Eccleshill, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1822 3593

Also Known as:

  1. Tunny Well

Archaeology & History

Tun Well, on 1893 map

First mentioned in local history accounts from 1618—as the Tunwells—it was highlighted on the first OS-map of Eccleshill in 1851.  Located on the aptly-named Tunwell Lane, it was a deep well covered by a large flat slab of stone, at the back-end the old Victorian mill.  The stone was put there to prevent children falling into it.  Some old locals thought the name of the place derived from a ‘tun’, or hundred, meaning it to be a hundred feet deep; although as A.H. Smith (1961) tells, tun could equally relate it to be one of Eccleshill’s town wells, of which there were several.  It used to be one of the principal drinking supplies for the village and was said to rarely run dry.  In William Ranger’s (1854) survey, he told this to be one of the sites to which local people relied in times of drought, where the land-owner allowed local folk to collect their supplies.

Folklore

The old cobbled Tunwell Lane was long ago supposed to be the haunt of a phantom black dog: a visionary precursor of death and Underworld guardian. Its spirit came and went into the deep well.  I remember hearing tales of this when I grew up, as the old women who worked in the mills spoke of it.  The ghost of a so-called ‘white lady’ was also said to walk along Tunwell Lane.

In more recent times, Val Shepherd (2002) included this in her short survey of wells in the area as being on “an alignment” with Eccleshill’s Moor Well and Holy Well.  She thought “it may be part of a ley line”, but her alignment is inaccurate and doesn’t hit the spots.

References:

  1. Crapp, H.C. & Whitehead, Thomas, History of the Congregational Church at Eccleshill, Watmoughs: Idle 1938.
  2. Ranger, William, Report to the General Board of Health on a Preliminary Inquiry into the Sewerage, Drainage, and Supply of Water, and the Sanitary Condition of the Inhabitants of the Township of Eccleshill, George Eyre: London 1854.
  3. Shepherd, Val, Holy Wells of West Yorkshire and the Dales, Lepus: Bradford 2002.
  4. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 3, Cambridge University Press 1961.

© 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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2 Responses to Tun Well, Eccleshill, Bradford, West Yorkshire

  1. The phantom black dog legend is interesting, in that most of these were scare stories put about to keep people away from certain areas by night. This was generally because someone who owned or used the particular area the devilish dog was said to haunt (and these dogs were very, very specific haunts) was involved in smuggling, a frequent occupation in the Seventeenth Century, and didn’t want people around to witness any foul deeds.

  2. megalithix says:

    Hi Dan – Some of these ‘dogs’ were also folklore remnants of an animistic nature, i.e., their tales derive from a differing cosmology that was endemic in pre-literate cultures – akin to aboriginal or other non-xtian cultures across the world. Correlates of such ‘dogs’ in other early cultures represent a very different ‘underworld’ – i.e., the spirit world of an archaic shamanic structure. It would could be the animal that, via ritual cathartic means, was encountered before going into the Lands of the Dead. Some of the British stories undoubtedly represent this, although curiously many folklorists seem to either ignore or simply don’t know this (I’m hoping it’s the latter). Check out Eliade and others who write extensivley on the comparative religious motifs in non-western systems; they illuminate our own folklore with very different eyes – and depth. One of these days I might get round to writing some papers on this. ;)

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