St. Serf’s Well, Alva, Clackmannanshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 8885 9722

Also Known as:

  1. St. Servanus’ Well

Getting Here

St Serfs Well, hidden in deep grasses

Along the main street running through Alva, towards Tillicoultry, watch out for the roman catholic church on your left, then shortly past it the house of St. Serfs.  Just next to this is the small road called Lovers Loan. Walk up here and just before the graveyard, walk right, into the overgrown boggy marshlands.  The first presence of the holy waters here are about 12-15 yards into the grasses, where you’ll walk right into it!

Archaeology & History

A sacred well that was named after the little known character of St. Serf, who was said to have been the hermit and tutor of the more renowned St. Mungo.

Highlighted on the 1866 Ordnance Survey map of the area as St. Servanus’ Well, 100 yards southeast of the church, it was included in MacKinlay’s (1893) fine survey, though without comment.  However it was said by Mr & Mrs Morris (1982) to be “near the south entrance of the churchyard.”   The boggy remains of the spring can indeed be found at the southern edge of the graveyard, up Lovers Loan, just below the edges of a large mound.  In Mrs Drummond’s (1936) survey of Alva, she too told that the “Well of St Servanus”,

“contained healing waters and was still to be seen in St. Serf’s Glebe in 1845, nbut it is now just a marsh on the west wisde of the lower cemetrary gate.”

The original waters have in fact been completely capped and the well is now covered by a modern concrete block, standing right next to the resurrected remains of one of Alva’s remaining standing stones.


  1. Drummond, Mrs A., The History of Alva and District from the Early Christian Period to 1900, in Transactions Stirling Natural History & Antiquarian Society, volume 58, 1936 (reprinted by Clackmannan District Libraries 1981).
  2. MacKinlay, James M., Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs, William Hodge: Glasgow 1893.
  3. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea Press: Sandy 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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One thought on “St. Serf’s Well, Alva, Clackmannanshire”

  1. Nice post Paul. St Serf or Servanus is an interesting saint who dwelt at Culross. He was a Scottish bishop and the Apostle of western Fife. As you say he was associated with St Kentigern (Mungo) whom he educated. Cheers.

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