Holy Well: OS Grid Reference — NO 5302 6479
Also Known as:
- St. Colman’s Well
Park up at the Menmuir Village Hall, walk west along the road and after crossing the burn, turn north into the field, following the line of fencing until you reach a stile. Cross the stile and continue following the fencing until you reach an east-west fence, whereupon turn right and follow that fence until you reach a gap. Come’s Well is on the other side of the fence, issuing into the East Burn of Balfour.
Archaeology and History
Forbes’ Kalendars of Scottish Saints notes, under the entry for St. Aidan, that the church at Menmuir is dedicated to that Saint, adding “In the immediate vicinity is Come’s Well, no doubt named after St. Colman”.
Apart from this one entry I was unable to find any other reference to this well, so recourse was made to the Ordnance Survey map, which shows one well other than St. Iten’s (Aidan’s) Well at Kirkton. At the site of this well marked on the map there is a modern circular concrete housing. But at the time of my winter field visit, I noticed two lines of stones running north of this well housing, parallel to the burn. They led to what had been a stone lined spring that issued into the burn. Unless anyone can show otherwise, I assume this to be the long lost Come’s Well, originally dedicated to St. Colman, with the lines of stones bordering what had once been the pilgrim path to the well.
St Colman, whose Saint’s Day is accepted in Scotland as the 18th February, was Irish and was for three years Bishop of Lindisfarne, a near successor of St Aidan. Following his refusal to abandon the Celtic Paschal computation at the Synod of Whitby in 664, Colman resigned the episcopate and retired to Iona. At around this time he seems to have been active in Forfarshire, and is reputed to have founded the church at Fearn (near Kirkton in Menmuir), which he dedicated to St Aidan, placing there some of St. Aidan’s relics that he had transported from Lindisfarne. Colman later returned to Ireland and died in 676.
- Forbes, Alexander Penrose, Kalendars of Scottish Saints, Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh 1872.
- Dom Michael Barrett, A Calendar of Scottish Saints, The Abbey Press, Fort Augustus, 1919
- Cardinal Patrick Moran, Irish Saints in Great Britain, M.H.Gill and Son & Browne and Nolan, Dublin, 1879
© Paul T. Hornby 2016 The Northern Antiquarian