Black Morrow Well, Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire

Well:  OS Grid Reference – NX 6843 4940

Archaeology & History

A curious little-known site with more of a Scottish genealogical history behind it.  Mentioned in McCormick’s (1906) fascinating survey of tinkers in the Galloway region, the site was given a more succinct description in the Morris survey (1982), where they told that,

Well shown on 1854 map
Black Morrow Well, c.1905

“a mile from the town in Black Moray (formerly Morrow) Road, a short distance from the road…was this well that the MacLellan family are said to have derived their crest of a Moor’s head impaled on a sword.  The local story is that James II wanted to get rid of some gypsies infesting Galloway and offered the Barony of Bombie to anyone who could do so.  MacLellan filled the well with potent liquor which the gypsy chief drank to excess and while he was in a drunken stupor MacLellan killed him, cut off his head and presented it to the King on the point of his sword, immediately receiving the barony as his reward.”

This story goes way back and was first mentioned in 1680.  According to McCormick (1906), the name Black Morrow derived from the “More”, the title given to the leader of the so-called gypsy clan, “or, as tradition suggests, a man named Black Morrow, of Irish tinkler descent.”

References:

  1. Andrew McCormick, The Tinkler-Gypsies of Galloway, J. Maxwell: Dumfries 1906.
  2. Morris, Ruth & Frank, Scottish Healing Wells, Alethea: Sandy 1982.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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