Holy Well (lost): OS Grid Reference – NC 725 538 (approximation)
Archaeology & History
It would appear that there’s only one literary reference to this seemingly lost holy well, located halfway down megalithic Strathnaver, somewhere close to the legendary Loch ma Naire. James Horsburgh’s (1870) essay on the antiquities of this area mentioned it, almost in passing, in his description of the Dun Viden broch. He told that,
“Close to Dun Viden is Loch Manaar, where dozens of people come twice every year for the cure of diseases. They come before sunrise, bathe in the loch, walk round it, drink from a holy well (my emphasis), and throw some pieces of money into the loch. There is a legend about this loch, which I forget; but a woman was chased by a priest, and threw something in it, and called out that it was Loch Manaar—that is, the loch of my shame. “
The holy well is referred to in Historic Scotland’s Canmore entry, citing both the New Statistical Account and Name Books as referrals to the site, yet neither of them include this well in their surveys; it is only through Horbugh that we hear of this site—and we know not where it lived! In the event that it still exists, we’d expect it to be not more than 2-300 yards from the edge of Loch ma Naire; or perhaps it may be the source of the Loch ma Naire burn itself, nearly a mile to the east…. Seek and thee shalt find, as the old saying goes…
- Horsburgh, James, “Notes of Cromlechs, Duns, Hut-circles, Chambered Cairns and other Remains, in the County of Sutherland“, in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 7, 1870.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian