St. Peter’s Well, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 308 336

Archaeology & History

Position of the now lost St Peter’s Well on 1852 map

This is one of three wells that were dedicated to St Peter in the Leeds district.  The first of them, near the city centre, was described by the northern antiquarian Ralph Thoresby (1715) as being in St. Peter’s Square—which has now been completely built over, but was situated “at the bottom or west end of High Street,” (Bonser 1974) about 50 yards west of the modern Quarry Hill buildings.  It was well known in the area in early times with a good curative reputation due seemingly to its sulphur content.  Mr Thoresby told that us, it

“is intensely cold and very beneficial for such as are afflicted with rheumatic pains, or weakness, rickets, etc, for which reason it is much frequented by such, who might otherwise have recourse to St. Mungus or Mongah, as it is more truly writ. This Spring, according to St Anselms Canon, which forbad a credulous attributing any reverence, or opinion of holiness to fountains…must either have been of great antiquity, or have had the bishop’s authority.”

Local folk of course, would have long known the goodness of this water supply long before any crude bishop.  The well either possessed a very large stone trough or it had been fashioned and added to by locals, as Thoresby reported “trying the cold bathing of St Peter’s.”  He took his youngest child there, Richard, to help him overcome an osteopathic ailment.  In his diary entry for April 8, 1709, he wrote:

“Was late at church, and fetched out by a messuage from the bone-setter (Smith, of Ardsley), who positively affirms that one part of the kneebone of my dear child Richard, has slipped out of its proper place; he set it right and bound it up; the Lord give a blessing to all endeavours!  We had made use of several before, who all affirmed that no bone was wrong, but that his limp proceeded rather from some weakness, which we were the rather induced to believe, because warm weather, and bathing in St. Peter’s Well, had set him perfectly on his feet without the least halting, only this severe Winter has made him worse than ever.”

It later became at least one of the water supplies for Maude’s Spa close by.  As usual with health-giving waters at this period in the evolving cities, money was to be made from them and local folk had to find their supplies from other sources.  St Peter’s Sulphur Baths (as it was called) were built on top of it in the 19th century and, said Bonser “flourished until the early years of the (20th) century.”

Although I can find no notices of annual celebrations or folklore here, St. Peter’s Day is June 29 — perhaps a late summer solstice site, though perhaps not.

It would be good if Leeds city council would at least put historical plaques in and around the city to inform people of the location of the many healing and holy wells that were once an integral part of the regions early history.  Tourists of various interest groups (from christian to pagan and beyond) would love to know more about their old sacred sites and spend their money in the city.

References:

  1. Atkinson, D.H., Ralph Thoresby, the Topographer – volume 1, Walker & Laycock: Leeds 1885.
  2. Baines, Edward, The Leeds Guide, E.Baines: Leeds 1808.
  3. Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of West Yorkshire, unpublished MS
  4. Bonser, K.J., “Spas, Wells and Springs of Leeds,” in Publications Thoresby Society, 54:1, 1974.
  5. Harte, Jeremy, English Holy Wells – volume 2, Heart of Albion: Wymeswold 2008.
  6. NiBride, Feorag, The Wells and Springs of Leeds, Pagan Pratlle: Leeds 1994.
  7. Robinson, Percy, Relics of Old Leeds, P.Robinson: Leeds 1896.
  8. Smith, Andrea, ‘Holy Wells Around Leeds, Bradford & Pontefract,’ in Wakefield Historical Journal 9, 1982.
  9. Thoresby, Ralph, Ducatus Leodiensis, Maurice Atkins: London 1715.
  10. Whelan, Edna & Taylor, Ian, Yorkshire Holy Wells and Sacred Springs, Northern Lights 1989.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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Horn Bank, Rigton, North Yorkshire

Settlement (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 2905 5035

Archaeology & History

Horn Bank site on 1910 map

Upon the top of the old ridge where ran the ancient trackway between Rigton and Pannal, could once be found a multi-period settlement, long since gone – as happens all too often in this neck o’ the woods.  And unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any sketch plans of the site.  It was first described by Edward Hargrove (1789) in his historical old rambles around Harrogate and district.  When the scribe reached Horn Bank, he told that here,

“was lately discovered the remains of several entrenchments forming three distinct enclosures, two of a square and one of a circular form.  Not far from these entrenchments, which were probably of Danish origin, was found, in May 1787, the umbo of a shield, with several other fragments of gilt brass…”

In William Grainge’s (1871) magnum opus he told that,

“At Horn Bank, on the crest of the hill east of Rigton, near a farm-house, are the remains of three camps—two of a square, and one of a circular form; they are probably of British and Roman origin. The location is a lofty and commanding one; but the ploughshare has so often passed over them that they are nearly obliterated.”

Just below the settlements Grainge also said how, “a fine spring of water was formed into a bath here many years ago, but the whole is now in a state of ruin.”  This would have likely been the main water supply for the people living here.  Harry Speight (1903) implied the same thing when he investigated the site, saying:

“At a place called Horn Bank, near Rigton, on the west side of the parish, on the crest of the hill on the north side of the Horn Bank farmhouse, there were formerly to be seen very distinct indications of three camps, each encompassed with fosse and rampart. Hargrove supposed them to be Danish, but as two of them were of a square or rectangular form, and the other circular, they were in all probability relics of the Romano-British contest, at first occupied by the native tribes and subsequently as a temporary camp and look-out post by their conquerors. The site commands a wide and uninterrupted view in every direction, while close at hand is a copious spring of good water. This spot many years ago was converted into a bathing-place, but is now broken down and abandoned… The site has long been ploughed, and little or no trace of these earthworks is now discernible.”

The only thing Eric Cowling (1946) could find when he came to the place were faint scars of walling whose shadows were highlighted by the sun when the conditions were just right.  He thought the settlements were Iron Age in nature, but would have continued to be used in subsequent centuries by local people.  It seems a sensible suggestion…

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Grainge, William, History & Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, J.R. Smith: London 1871.
  3. Hargrove, E., The History of the Castle, Town and Forest of Knaresborough with Harrogate, W. Blanchard: York 1789.
  4. Speight, Harry, Kirkby Overblow and District, Elliot Stock: London 1903.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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Briscoe Rigg, Rigton, North Yorkshire

Settlement (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference — SE 2581 5100

Archaeology & History

Briscoe Rigg on 1851 map

Highlighted on the 1851 OS-map of the area as a ‘Camp’, all trace of this ancient settlement would seem to have been destroyed.  It was already on its way out when the Ordnance Survey lads looked at it again in 1888, finding barely a trace of it.  Thankfully though, when the clearer eyes of that great northern antiquarian Eric Cowling visited the site in the early 1930s, traces of it could still be made out.  Both he and fellow antiquarian, Mr B.J.W. Kent of Beckwithshaw, did their own investigations; and it is their notes we are most grateful for in describing this forlorn antiquity.  Mr Cowling (1946) wrote:

“On the highest point of the enclosed land on the east side of the Briscoe Rigg (to) Rigton road is a small entrenched site.  The enclosed area measures 130 yards from north to south and 70 yards from east to west.  The camp is six-sided, but this appears to be due to bad workmanship and layout rather than intention.  One gains the impression that the original plan was oblong and that the longer sides were bent to conform to the shorter ones.  It is slightly hollow and the whole area is almost levelled by heavy ploughing; the outer bank barely being one foot above the surroundings.  The ditch and outer bank now cover a spread of 60 feet.

“Recent hurried investigations by Mr Kent showed interesting details.  The area seems to have been occupied by hut-sites previous to the hurried digging of a trench some 16ft wide and 6ft deep, going down into the bed-rock nearly 6 feet.  Son after, the ditch was half-filled by boulders and earth amongst which was a fragment of pottery, black in colour and indefinite in type, but probably Roman.  When the ditch was half-full it was used for some time for cooking…”

Cowling’s 1946 site-plan

Cowling also told us there was “a tradition that tools, which by description appear to be socketed celts, were found here when the site was brought under cultivation”, in about 1840.  Mr Kent also discovered various flints hereby, many Mesolithic scrapers and “a fine Bronze Age barbed and tanged point and also a transverse cutting arrow point of the early four-sided types.”

Although these finds from much earlier periods show that people have been living and hunting in the area for an exceptionally long period, the settlement or camp at Briscoe Rigg was probably built in the early Iron Age period and continued to be used into Romano-British times (somewhere between between 500 BCE and 500 CE).

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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Stone Rings, Pannal, North Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 308 527

Archaeology & History 

‘Stone Rings’ place-names on the 1910 OS-map

No remains exist of the “stone rings”—or rings of stone—that once stood here in bygone centuries.  The only remains left are in the place-names of the stream and roads hereby, highlighted on several of the early OS-maps: Stone Rings Lane, Stone Rings Beck and the Stone Rings Quarry—the latter of which is probably the reason why there is nothing to be seen here anymore. But we don’t know for sure.

The plurality of the place-name implies that there was more than one circle, but we don’t that know for sure either!  But if there was more than one, it is more likely they were cairn circles than traditional free-standing stones circles.  But once again, we simply don’t know….

The grid-reference given here is an approximation.

References:

  1. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 5, Cambridge University Press 1961.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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Longbarrow Field, Timble, North Yorkshire

Cairn (lost):  OS Grid Reference — SE 18 53

Archaeology & History

Described in the Field Lore of Timble village by William Grainge (1895) are the names and short histories of some of the local place-names—with this in particular standing out like a veritable sore thumb!  Quite plainly, as Grainge told us,

“The name ‘Longbarrows’ is indicative of some burial mounds of a very early day.  None exist at present.  The land is under the plough, and is about the best in the township.”

But I cannot locate the position of this long-lost site and it’s not shown on any of the early OS-maps hereby.  Grainge said that the land on which it once stood was owned by a local farmer called Charles Dickinson, who leased it out to others.  He wrote:

“Dickinson had in Longbarrows 3 roods* and 23 perches*, and William Jackson’s share in Longbarrows was 1 acre, 3 roods and 21 perches.  Besides these, John Ward of Nether Timble had 1 rood and 17 perches int he same field, a long narrow slip without fence, between Dickinson’s and Jackson’s lots.”

Does anyone know where this was?  One of my suspects is the gathering place of the Fewston witches, a half-mile south of the village; but no remains of anything can be found there today and I may just be barking up the wrong tree.

The area south and west of here is rich in little-known prehistoric heritage, from the cairn-fields of Askwith Moor, the cairn circle at Snowden Crags, the settlements of Snowden Carr and the extensive petroglyphs all over the place!  Giants cairns of the early Bronze Age and neolithic period were also once more numerous upon the moors to the west and south, so the former existence of a long barrow in Timble is not unusual.  But where was it?!

References:

  1. Grainge, William, The History and Topography of the Townships of Little Timble, Great Timble and the Hamlet of Snowden, William Walker: Otley 1895.

*  A rood is an English unit of area, equal to a quarter of an acre or 10,890 square feet; a perch was a more variable unit of measure, being lengths of 1612, 18, 21, 24 and 25 square feet.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

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Little Almscliffe, Stainburn, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 23242 52260

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.555 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  2. Little Almias Cliff Crag

Archaeology & History

Little Almscliffe Crag (photo – James Elkington)

When the great northern antiquarian William Grainge (1871) wrote of this place, he told that, “the top of the main rock bears…rock bains and channels, which point it out as having been a cairn or fire-station in the Druidic day; there are also two pyramidal rocks with indented and fluted summits on the western side of the large rock” — but said nothing of the faded cup-and-ring we’re highlighting here, on its vertical eastern face.  This ancient geological rise is today more peppered with increasing amounts of modern graffiti – much more than when I first visited the place in the early 1990s with petroglyph colleague Graeme Chappell.

Stuart Feather (left) & Joe Davis here in the late 50s

Cup&Ring, left of ‘door’

In modern times, this singular cup-and-ring seems to have been reported first in E.S. Wood’s (1952) lengthy essay on prehistoric Nidderdale, and later included Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey of West Yorkshire and district.  They wrote:

“On sheltered E face of main crag above a cut-out hollow like a doorway is a cup with a ring; the top surface of the rock is very weathered and may have had carvings, including a cupless ring.”

Close-up of cup & ring (photo – James Elkington)

Indeed… although the carving is to the left-side of the large hollow and not above it.  Scattered across the topmost sections of the Little Almscliffe themselves are a number of weather-worn cups and bowls, some of which may have authentic Bronze age pedigree, but the erosion has taken its toll on them and it’s difficult to say with any certainty these days.  But it’s important to remember that even Nature’s ‘bowls’ on rocks was deemed to have importance in traditional cultures: the most common motif being that rain-water gathered in them possessed curative properties.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Grainge, William, History & Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, J.R. Smith: London 1871.
  3. Speight, Harry, Kirkby Overblow and District, Elliot Stock: London 1903.
  4. Wood, E.S., The Archaeology of Nidderdale, unpublished MS, 1952.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to James Elkington for use of his fine photos on this site.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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Castleton (2), Cowie, Stirling, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 85494 88272

Also Known as:

  1. Castleton 9 (van Hoek)

Getting Here

Castleton 2 carving, Airth

If you’re travelling from Stirling or Bannockburn, take the B9124 east to Cowie (and past it) for 3¾ miles (6km), turning left at the small crossroads; or if you’re coming from Airth, the same B9124 road west for just about 3 miles, turning right at the same minor crossroads up the long straight road. Drive to the dead-end of the road and park up, then walk back up the road 350 yards to the small copse of trees on your left.  Therein, some 50 yards or so, zigzag about!

Archaeology & History

Petroglyphs can be troublesome things at the best of time: not only in their ever-elusive root meanings, but even their appearance is troublesome!  This example to the east of Cowie in the incredible Castleton complex is one such case.  It is undoubtedly a multi-period carving, probably first started in the neolithic period, added onto in the Bronze Age, and maybe even finished in the early christian period.  You’ll see why!

It’s been described several times in the past, with Maarten van Hoek (1996) telling how it was rediscovered,

“by Mrs Margaret Morris in 1986 in the birch-coppice at Castleton Wood. A fragment of outcrop rock with a distinct cup-and-three-rings, rather oval-shaped like others in the area.”

But as our own team found out, there’s more to it than that.  Like many of the Castleton carvings, vital elements have been missed in the previous archaeological assessments.  But it’s no easy thing.  The carved design here almost ebbs and flows with daylight, shadows, changes in weather, bringing out what aboriginal and traditional peoples have always told us about rock itself, i.e., it’s alive, with qualities and virtues that can and do befuddle even that great domain of ‘objectivity’—itself an emergent construct of an entirely subjective creature (humans).  But that’s what petroglyphs do!—whether they are part of a living tradition, or lost in our striving modernity, exhibiting once more that implicit terrain of animism.  And this carving exemplifies it very clearly.

The main cup-and-3-rings (photo by Paul Hornby)

The primary visual design is the odd triple-ring, which isn’t quite as clear-cut as the earlier descriptions would have you think.  In the drawing below by van Hoek (1996), three complete elliptical ‘rings’ are shown; whereas on its northern edge where the outer ring is closest to the rock edge, we find that the ‘ring’ has carved lines that run off and down the slope of the stone towards ground-level.  It also seems that from the inner second-ring, a natural scar in the rock has been heightened by pecking, creating an artificial carved line running from near the centre and ‘out’ of the three rings.  You can make this out in the accompanying photo. (right)

van Hoek’s sketch of carving

The more complete design

Additionally we found two very faint carved ‘eyes’ or trapezoids pecked onto the stone, obviously at a much earlier date than the notable triple-ring—which could almost be modern!  They would no doubt have excited the old archaeologist O.G.S. Crawford (1957), whose curious theory of petroglyphs was that they were images of some sort of Eye Goddess.  Archaeo’s can come out with some strange ideas sometimes…

Fainter still was another triple-ring—albeit incomplete—with what appears to be a very small central cup-mark, just below and between the two ‘eyes’.  It was first noticed by Paul Hornby when he was playing with the contrast settings on his camera, in the hope of getting clearer photos of any missing elements.

Very faint triple-ring, bottom-left of photo (photo by Paul Hornby)

“Can you see this?” he asked.  And although very faint indeed (on most days you can’t see it at all), it’s undoubtedly there: another multiple-ringer all but lost by the erosion of countless centuries, and older still than the ‘eyes’ above it.  In all the photos we took of this stone, from different angles in different weathers (about 100 in all), this very faint triple-ring can only be seen on a handful of images.  But it’s definitely there and you can see it faintly in the attached image (right) to the bottom-left.

A final note has to be made of a possible unfinished, large circular section with a cross cut into the natural feature of the stone.  It’s uncertain whether this has been touched by human hands (are there any geologists reading?), but it’s something that we’re noticing increasingly at more and more petroglyph sites.  They’re not common, but it has to be said that we found two more man-made ‘crosses’ attached to multiple cup-and-rings near Killin just a few weeks ago.  Also, folklore tells us that not far from this Castleton cluster, a christian hermit once lived….

References:

  1. Crawford, O.G.S., The Eye Goddess, Phoenix House: London 1957.
  2. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  3. van Hoek, M.A.M.,”Prehistoric Rock Art around Castleton Farm, Airth,” in Forth Naturalist & Historian, volume 19, 1996.

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks as always to Nina Harris, Fraser & Lisa Harrick, Paul Hornby, Frank Mercer, Penny & Thea Sinclair, for their additional senses and input.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Katie Thirsty’s Well, Logie, Stirlingshire

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 81787 97653

Getting Here

The olde tree of Katie Thirsty’s Well

Not too tricky to locate, as long as you get onto the right footpath!  Take either road (both steep narrow and very bendy in places!) up from Logie on one side or Bridge of Allan on the other, towards Sheriffmuir and head to the Faerie or Highlandman’s Well.  About 150 yards before this, note the small car-park.  From here, go through the gate as if you’re walking to Dumyat, but 50 yards along the footpath it splits into two.  Take the lower right-hand path and keep walking for another 600 yards until you see a large worn hawthorn tree on your left, with boggy land just in front of it that runs to the path you’re walking on.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

‘Katie Thirsty’ is a most intriguing character who pops up at a number of healing wells, primarily in Scotland.  Dedications to her are known near Abernethy, Falkirk, Innerleithen, Killearn, Kilsyth and elsewhere, with one example just over the Scottish border in Northumberland.  So who was she? And what’s the story behind this little known example, close to the ruinous Iron Age village east of Dumyat?  The truth is, we don’t know for sure as yet.  Tales are told of a local lady called ‘Katie’ at the wells near Abernethy and Kilsyth, each with their own domestic myth—but it seems that a wider mythic status underlies this dedication.

One very fine notion comes from the pen of Pictish researcher Ronald Henderson (2008; 2014), who tells that the name derives from a corruption of both St. Katherine of Alexandria [Katie] and the Pictish King, Drust or Drustan [Thirsty].  The latter etymological postulation finds faith in the fact that the great crags of Dumyat less than a mile to the east is universally credited with being the last Pictish stronghold at the old hillfort there.

The flowing clear waters

…This well on the hills north of Logie village—with its old hawthorn for companion above the old path to medieval Fossachie village—flows nicely, and its freezing waters are very good to drink.  Twenty yards east of the boggy overflow are the overgrown remains of an isolated Iron Age ‘homestead’ or hut circle, and the waters of Katie Thirsty’s Well would have been the primary drinking supply to the people living there in ancient times.

Very little is known about the specific history or folklore of the site and it is mentioned only in passing by David Morris (1935) who told us simply:

‘“Katie Thirty’s Well’ was the old name of a clear spring on the hillside by the track leading to Dumyat.”

It’s a beautiful spot to visit, with lovely views for many miles to the east, south and west.  If you’re going to visit the Fairy or Highlandman’s Well nearby, take time to visit Katie Thirsty’s refreshing flow too.

As for Katie herself: does anyone have their own ideas about her…?

References:

  1. Henderson, Ronald W., Rex Pictorum – The History of the Kings of the Picts, Perth 2008.
  2. Henderson, Ronald W., “Drust… of the Hundred Battles,” in Celtic Guide, 3:4, April 2014.
  3. Morris, David B., “Causewayhead a Hundred Years Ago,” in Stirling Natural History & Archaeological Society Transactions, 1935.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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Mineral Well, Glen Lyon, Perthshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – NN 72110 47768

Also Known as:

  1. Iron Well

Getting Here

Mineral Well, Glen Lyon

From Fortingall village, head west and turn down into the incredible beauty that is Glen Lyon.  As you enter the trees, a half-mile along you pass the small gorge of MacGregor’s Leap in the river below.  2-300 yards pass this, keep your eyes peeled for an old small overgrown walled structure on the left-hand side of the road, barely above the road itself.  A large tree grows up above the tiny walled enclosure, within which are the unclear waters that trickle gently….

Archaeology & History

In previous centuries, this all-but-forgotten spring of water wasn’t just a medicinal spring, but was one of the countless sites where sympathetic magick was practised.  The old Highlanders would have had a name for the spirit residing at these waters, but it seems to have been lost.  The site is described in Alexander Stewart’s (1928) magnum opus on this stunning glen, where he wrote:

“Still a few yards more and Glenlyon’s famous mineral wishing well is seen gushing up, surrounded by its wall of rough stones now sadly in need of repair.  It has a stone shelf to receive the offerings of those who still retain a trace of superstition or like to uphold old customs as they partake of its waters.  The offerings usually consist of small pebbles, but occasionally something more valuable is found among them. The roadmen may clear that shelf as often as they like, but it is seldom empty for long.”

A local lady from Killin told us that she remembers the stone above the well still having offerings left on it 20-30 years ago. Hilary Wheater (1981) sketched it and called it the Iron Well.

Close-up of the waters (photo by Paul Hornby)

The waters in this small roadside well-house actually emerge some 50 yards up the steep hillside (recently deforested) and in parts have that distinct oily surface that typifies chalybeates, or iron-bearing springs – which this site is an example of.  Its medicinal properties would help to people with anaemia; to heal women just after childbirth; to aid those who’d been injured and lost blood; as well as to fortify the blood and stimulate the system.

Across the road from the well, Stewart (1928) told of a giant lime tree that was long known to be the meeting place for lovers (perhaps relating to the well?), and the name of the River Lyon here is the Poll-a-Chlaidheamh, or ‘the pool of the sword’, whose history and folklore fell prey to the ethnic cleansing of the english.

References:

  1. Stewart, Alexander, A Highland Parish, Alexander Maclaren: Glasgow 1928.
  2. Wheater, Hilary, Aberfeldy to Glenlyon, Appin Publications: Aberfeldy 1981.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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Clochoderick Stone, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire

Rocking Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 37363 61280

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 42329

Archaeology & History

The Clochoderick Stone

On the outer southern edge of Kilbarchan parish—right near the ancient boundary line itself—this giant stone of the druids is seems to be well-known by local folk.  Located about 40 yards away from the sacred ‘St Bride’s Burn’ (her ‘Well’ is several hundred yards to the west), it was known to have been a rocking stone in early traditions, but as Glaswegian antiquarian Frank Mercer told us, “the stone no longer moves.”  The creation myths underscoring its existence, as Robert Mackenzie (1902) told us, say

“This remarkable stone, thought by some to have been set up by the druids, and by others to have been carried hither by a glacier, is now believed to be the top of a buried lava cone rising through lavas of different kind.”

The huge Clochoderick Stone

The site was highlighted on the first OS-map of the area in 1857, but the earliest mention of it seems to be as far back as 1204 CE, where it was named as Clochrodric and variants on that title several times in the 13th century.  It was suggested by the old place-name student, Sir H. Maxwell, to derive from ‘the Stone of Ryderch’, who was the ruler of Strathclyde in the 6th century.  He may be right.

Folklore

Folklore told that this stone was not only the place where the druids held office and dispensed justice, but that it was also the burial-place of the Strathclyde King, Ryderch Hael.

References

  1. Campsie, Alison, “Scotland’s Mysterious Rocking Stones,” in The Scotsman, 17 August, 2017.
  2. MacKenzie, Robert D., Kilbarchan: A Parish History, Alexander Gardner: Paisley 1902.

AcknowledgementsBig thanks to Frank Mercer for use of his photos and catalytic inception in this site profile.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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