Sacred Well: OS Grid Reference – NO 5945 6006
Archaeology & History
Highlighted on the 1865 OS-map, this lost water source was located between the Brechin cathedral/round tower and the curiously-named St. Michael’s Mount, whose history seems to be lost. It would seem to be the well which Ruth & Frank Morris (1981) name as the ‘Ancient Well’ in their survey.
The reason behind this site being classified as a sacred (or holy) well is based on the tradition that the Culdees had a religious convent here in the 12th century and, according to David Black (1839),
“This convent is believed to have stood a little to the west of the present parish church, in the gardens now belonging to the kirk-session, still called “the College Yards.” A small well of delightfully pure water in these gardens receives the name of the College Well, and is reported, by tradition, to have been the well of the Culdee convent.”
On the issue of St. Michael, students of folklore will know that, in the christian cult, he was an early dragon-slayer. His annual commemoration day is September 29. One of his shamanistic functions “relates to the very old tradition of Michael as the receiver of the souls of the dead.” (Attwater 1965)
- Black, David D., The History of Brechin, Alexander Black: Brechin 1839.
- Gibson, Colin, Folklore of Tayside, Dundee Museum c.1968.
- Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian
Acknowledgements: Huge thanks for use of the 1st edition OS-map in this site profile, Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland.