Serpent’s Well, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – SP 31 27?

Archaeology & History

This legendary-sounding spring of water was described in field-name listings from the 1770 Enclosure Acts, but nothing seems to have been written about it since.  To me at least, there seems little doubt that this site would have been a sacred or legendary water-site. Curiously it is in William Henderson’s collection of northern folk-tales where we find a mention of further dragon lore from the township, albeit briefly, where he wrote:

“Near Chipping Norton, in Oxfordshire, A.D. 1349, was a serpent with two heads, faces like women, and great wings after the manner of a bat.”

In Nigel Pennick’s (1997) overview of dragon legends he copied Henderson’s earlier note, but neither of them gave specific indications relating the legend with our Serpent’s Well.  So, to those of you who live in and around Chipping Norton (where I spent two very good years living with Sir Wilson at the Rollright Stones) – what has become of it?  Where exactly is it?  And does anyone know anything more behind this tale and any further history behind the ‘Serpent’s Well’?

References:

  1. Gelling, Margaret, The Place-Names of Oxfordshire, Cambridge University Press 1953-54.
  2. Henderson, William, Notes on the Folk-lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders, Folklore Society: London 1879.
  3. Pennick, Nigel, Dragons of the West, Capall Bann: Chieveley 1997.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Serpents Well

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Serpents Well 51.940563, -1.550472 Serpents Well

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