Barrow Well, Compton Martin, Somerset

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – ST 537 573

Archaeology & History

This rather delapidated spring of water (there are actually two springs here) marks the western edge of the parish boundary, just on the south-side of the A368 road towards Ubley, on what Phil Quinn (1999) described as “a neglected triangle of shrubby ground.”  Its name derives from once being associated with a prehistoric tomb, or barrow, as the associated field-names of Barrows Orchard and Barrow Cross here indicates.  Sadly however, all remains of whatever tomb there once was appears to have gone.  Aerial imagery shows what may have been two or three barrows in the said field.


A haunted site: the folklore here is akin to banshee-lore and similar mythic figures.  The fact that it marked the old boundary line between here and Ubley may have something to do with it.  Quinn (1999) says how,

“Local folklore states that the well was haunted by the ghost of a woman washing cabbages”!

But this vegetative lore is likely a mistranslation of a local dialect word.  Precisely what the spirit was supposedly ‘washing’ seems to have been lost in translation.


  1. Quinn, Phil, The Holy Wells of Bath and Bristol Region, Logaston: Almeley 1999.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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