Horse Well, Duddingston, Edinburgh, Midlothian

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – NT 28198 72642

Getting Here

Horse Well on 1852 map

Horse Well on 1852 map

Get to the Delf Well from Duddingston and keep walking along the lochside road for 60-70 yards, where you go through the black metal gate in the fence on your left.  Walk down the slope just a few yards and (drought dependent!) you’ll see an initial damp patch where the well used to arise 150 years ago; just a few yards further down the slope is the more notable spring water of the Horse Well below you.

Archaeology & History

The site is shown on the 1852 map of the area where it was later “capped” and used by the old local water authority.  Thankfully the water has managed to escape and is once more feeding the birds and the land, running into the loch below.  When we arrived here, a crow was drinking from the waters.

Horse Well & its herbs

Horse Well & its herbs

Although you’d expect that this was once a watering-place for horses, the name of the well may relate to the Scottish folk-name of the herb Veronica beccabunga, generally known as Brooklime or European Speedwell, but locally called Horse-well grass—some of which seemed to be growing in the watery spring amidst the other plants.  As a herb it was used in the treatment of scurvy.  The history of the well however, seems all but forgotten…


  1. Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Edinburgh, TNA: Alva 2017.
  2. Grant, William (ed.), Scottish National Dictionary – volume 5, SNDA: Edinburgh 1958.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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