Holy Well: OS Grid Reference – NS 7790 9304
Archaeology & History
Very close to the edge of the M9, this old water source is thankfully still visible, though not in its original state. At the bottom of the ridge, loosely enclosed in the grounds of St. Thomas Well House, we find that the original well has been submerged into the pond which covers it.
I’ve not yet found the mythic origins behind the dedication to this site, though St. Thomas’ Day is the winter solstice on December 21, and his mythic status was that of didymus, or twin. In Yorkshire, folk customs surrounding this figure have been found to be inextricably intertwined with death rites, Robin Hood and shamanism! But this Stirlingshire site is as yet silent. The presence of numerous prehistoric burials very close by may have something to do with its dedication, as such sites would heighten the likelihood of there being ‘heathen’ practices close by, to which the said ‘St Thomas’—or one of his emissaries—could subdue with their christian figure. But that’s pure speculation on my part…
- Attwater, Donald, The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, Penguin: Harmondsworth 1965.
Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.
- Fleming, J.S., Old Nooks of Stirling, Delineated and Described, Munro & Jamieson: Stirling 1898.
- Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Stirlingshire – volume 2, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian