Holy Well: OS Grid Reference — NO 5339 6413
Also Known as:
- St. Iten’s Well
- Canmore ID 35137
Just before entering Kirkton from Fearn, turn right down the minor road to Lochty. Park up just beyond the southern boundary of the woodland on the left and enter the field on the left, and follow the line of woodland on your left until you come to a break in the barbed wire protected by a tube of sponge rubber. Cross here into the old woodland and keep walking until you reach the top of a slope. Turn 45° to your left and walk down the slope among recently planted trees, and the spring will be seen at the bottom, bubbling into a pond.
Archaeology and History
The well was named after St. Aidan, the first Bishop of Lindisfarne, who died in 651, and whose Saint’s Day is 31st August. It was possibly named by his successor, St. Colman of Lindisfarne, who is believed to have sojourned in the area following the Synod of Whitby in 664
According to Jervise’s Land of the Lindsays, quoted on the Scotland’s Places website:
‘A fountain near the church, now lost by drainage, long preserved his (St. Aidan’s) name in the metamorphosed form of St. Iten, and was believed to perform miraculous cures on such as were afflicted with asthma and cutaneous diseases’.
The OS Name Book notes;
‘The place where the well was can be seen in the hollow which it has left. The water issues from a spout at the roadside, of which some care seems to have been taken as it is built around’.
Since that was written in the mid nineteenth century, the topography of the vicinity of the well has changed, and no trace of any previous building was visible to me. Prior to my locating the well, I enquired about it from a local who said it had ‘gone’ and no-one knew where it had been.
On my late winter field visit, the spring was bubbling away strongly, and was deliciously clean tasting. I felt it had a spirit of its own, which of course it did before the Christian times. I noticed that the barbed wire surrounding the area of the well had been broken down in a couple of places, and sponge rubber protection put over it. Maybe it is not just Northern Antiquaries who visit, and there are local people who still celebrate the old well….
- Forbes, Alexander Penrose, Kalendars of Scottish Saints, Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh 1872.
- 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