Chapel Well, Berryhill, Bankfoot, Perthshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 02179 34749

Also Known as:

  1. Beltane Well
  2. Canmore ID 27045

Getting Here

Note the position of the Well vis-a-vis the wall and the burn.

I accessed the site by parking up at Little Tullybelton, walking up the hill and crossing into the field on the left just north of the wood, then walking due west (crossing barbed wire fences) until dropping down into the valley of the Ordie Burn and following the track into the wood, then, noting where the burn crosses south of the old stone wall. The site of the well is marked by some tussocks of cotton grass. Don’t confuse with a patch of nettles and docks 2-300 hundred yards east where you enter the wood.

Archaeology & History

All that remains is a clump of Cotton Grass.

This well was destroyed about 170 years ago and the site of it is quite hard to find as the land has been turned over to forestry. It was near a chapel and burial ground that were also destroyed by the farmer of the time. The old wall formed part of the boundary of the detached portion or enclave of the neighbouring parish of Methven.

The Reverend Thomas Nelson, Minister of the Parish of Auchtergaven, has this to say in the New Statistical Account of 1845;

Superstition formerly invested St Bryde’s, and Chapel Well, and perhaps some others, with a sacred character, and made then places of resort for pious purposes.

‘On the south march of Berryhill Farm, in the same lands of Tullybeagles, there is the site of.. a chapel, where there was a burying-place, where human bones have been recently dug up; and, till of late, the people in the neighbourhood used, on the first Sabbath of May, to drink out of the Holy Well there. This sacred place is on the banks of the Ordie.’

The OS Name Book has the following entry regarding the Well:

The site of a Holy Well which has been traditionally associated with the adjacent chapel. The water of this well is now carried by a covered drain into the adjacent stream, and the well filled in‘.

And this regarding the Chapel:

Part of the ancient roadway to the Well and Chapel

The site of an ancient chapel on the north bank of the Ordie Burn, the chapel was demolished and the graveyard rooted up some years ago by the present tenant of the farm, who has pointed out the site, the dedicatory name is not known‘.

I could find no evidence of the culvert which discharges the waters of the Well into the Burn. What does seem to have been missed is the survival of part of the ancient sunken roadway or pilgrim path to the site, which is still clearly visible.
The fact that it was visited by locals on the first Sabbath in May would point to it having originally been a Beltane well, and therefore of pre-Christian origin.

References:

  1. The New Statistical Account for Auchtergaven, Perthshire, 1845
  2. Ordnance Survey Name Books for Perthshire, 1859-6

© Paul T Hornby 2018

 

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  56.494602, -3.590394 Chapel Well

Our Lady’s Well, Gateside, Fife

Holy Well: OS Grid Reference – NO 18505 09169

Also Known as:

  1. Chapel Well

Getting Here

Access to the field - ask at the pleasant house!
Access to the field – ask at the pleasant house!

Travelling from Milnathort on the A91, in Gateside village, turn right down Old Town, and after the left bend in the road, park up.  Access to the field where the Well is situated is through the gate on land next to the easternmost house on the south side of Old Town.  Ask at the house first.  Walk down the field towards the Chapel Den burn, and the ruins of the Well will be seen next to the burn just before the line of bushes that cross the field.

Archaeology and History

In his brief description of Strathmiglo parish, Hew Scott (1925) wrote:

“At Gateside…there was a chapel of St Mary, with Our Lady’s Well beside it.”

It was described in the nineteenth century Ordnance Survey Name Books by an informant:

“A small spring well on the north side of the Mill Dam.  Supposed to have been used in the days of Popery as holy water and for other purposes when the building supposed to have been St Mary’s Chapel was in existence.”

Another informant wrote:

“…a Romish chapel is supposed to have been erected in this village and is borne out in a great measure by names of objects adjoining, namely Chapel Den, Chapel Well.”

And further:

“According to Doctor Small…it is stated, ‘The ancient name of this village called in old papers the Chapelton of the Virgin, changing its name at the Reformation.'”

Shown as Chapel Well in 1856
Shown as Chapel Well in 1856

This latter statement would seem to imply that the part of modern-day Gateside south of the main road (the north side was known as ‘Edentown’) was a pilgrimage centre of the Cult of the Virgin.  The chapel was erected by the monks of Balmerino to whom it was known as ‘Sanct Mary’s of Dungaitsyde’.  It was highlighted as the Chapel Well on the 1856 OS-map.

The ruined Well from across the burn
The ruined Well from across the burn
Nature takes back the ruined masonry at this magickal spot
Nature takes back the ruined masonry at this magickal spot

While no trace of the chapel remains, the Well is evidenced by some low ruins of what had once been a red sandstone structure, and it was just possible to make out in the field the line of the pilgrim’s path to the well. But what a lovely serene place next to the burn! An ideal spot to meditate or daydream… The spring no longer flows, and a manhole in the field probably indicates the water supply has been diverted, perhaps to serve the long since closed Gateside Distillery?

References:

  1. Scott, Hew, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae – Volume V, Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh 1925.

Links:

  1. On Canmore

© Paul T. Hornby 2016 The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  56.267972, -3.317383 Our Ladys Well