Bowfoot Well, Edinburgh, Midlothian

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – NT 25500 73417

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 52178
  2. West Bow Well

Getting Here

19th C image of Bowfoot Well, right

Once you’re in Edinburgh, there are so many ways to get here (and it’s easy to get lost with city directions, depending on where you’re starting out from), so just get to the south-side of Edinburgh Castle and find the long cobbled-road of the Grassmarket.  Ask people if you can’t find it, they’re very helpful in Edinburgh (totally different from London!).  It’s the large carved square stone-feature near the bottom of the road.

Archaeology & History

Very much the product of the Industrial Age, this large ornate architectural feature at the cobbled junction of Grassmarket, Cowgatehead and West Bow, was built by Robert Mylne in 1681.  The well gave the people of the city a water supply after redirecting waters from the Comiston Springs, 3 miles away, into Edinburgh.  It was one of a number of public wells constructed in the city specifically for use by the general populace “when a dry season occurred,” reported Mr Colston (1890).  A dry season?! – in Scotland?!  In the 19th century it became unreliable as a source of good drinking water. It has no archaic animistic veracity.


  1. Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Edinburgh, TNA: Alva 2017.
  2. Colston, James, The Edinburgh and District Water Supply, Edinburgh 1890.
  3. Harris, Stuart, The Place-Names of Edinburgh: Their Origins and History, Gordon Wright: Edinburgh 1996.
  4. Hope, Thomas C. & Telford, Thomas, Reports on the Means of Improving the Supply of Water for the City of Edinburgh, A. Constable: Edinburgh 1813.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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