Healing Well (lost): OS Grid Reference – NS 593 648
Also Known as:
- Ratten Well
Archaeology & History
This long lost well near the middle of Glasgow was known by this name as early as 1345. Close to the River Clyde, a wooden structure was built around the well—a stock—and its waters were used by local fishermen. A local fair used to be held hereby. It has long since been built over and its original position no longer seems to be known.
The old traditional tale behind this site was written in a short piece in the Scottish Journal of Topography oh so long ago now… One pseudonymous “R.M.S.” said that:
“Stockwell Street in the city of Glasgow, is pretty well-known, and everybody in the locality is aware of the ‘Ratten Well’ with its impure waters. It is said that, in days of yore, when Sir William Wallace had occasion to be in that quarter, he and his party met a band of englishmen at the well. A battle ensued, and the bodies of the englishmen, who were defeated, were thrown by the incensed Scots into the well. “Stock it well! Stock it well” exclaimed Wallace, from which expression the street received its name. So says tradition; and it is even yet believed that the bad quality of the water is owing to the putrefaction of the dead bodies of the englishmen.”
The one thing we can be certain about in this story, is that the Scots wouldn’t be stupid enough to dump dead bodies into their own fresh water supplies. We must assume some englishman or dodgy corporation was responsible for that bit!
- Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Glasgow, TNA 2017.
- Brotchie, T.C.F., “Holy Wells in and Around Glasgow,” in Old Glasgow Club Transactions, volume 4, 1920.
- MacKenzie, Peter, Reminiscences of Glasgow and the West of Scotland – volume 1, John Tweed: Glasgow 1865.
- “R.M.S.”, “Stockwell Street, Glasgow,” in Scottish Journal of Topography, Antiquities & Traditions, volume 2, July 8, 1848.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian