St. Trunnion’s Well, Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TA 026 223

Archaeology & History

This curiously-named, lost holy well was to be found somewhere between the old terrace at West Field and the old road of West Acridge, but even when Henry Ball (1856) wrote about it, the site had passed into history.  He told that,

“In the old enclosures to the west of the town was a spring of clear water called St. Trunnion’s well, and in a field in the West Acridge a very old thorn tree called St, Trunnion’s tree, which was standing in 1736; but who St. Trunnion was is not known…”

The close proximity of the tree with the well is highly likely.  Throughout the British Isles there are many relationships where sacred trees and wells of the same name are next to each other and we have little reason to doubt this was the case here.  However, unless local historians can uncover some old field-name maps, the exact location of the site seems to have been lost.  It was named as St Tronians in 1665; with his sacred tree mentioned in early enclosure awards dated 1681 and 1697 respectively.

The enigmatic saint ‘Trunnion’ is thought to derive, not from some old hermit or heathen holy dood, but from the corruption of an early word: “a perversion of Trin-union or Tri-union, used as an asservation or oath”; although another option cited by Cameron (1991) is that it derives from “trinune, trin-une, referring to the Trinity”—which would explain the sanctification of the waters.

References:

  1. Ball, Henry W., The Social History and Antiquities of Barton-upon-Humber, M. Ball: Barton-upon-Humber 1856.
  2. Cameron, Kenneth, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire – volume 2, EPNS: Nottingham 1991.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St. Catharine’s Well, Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TA 032 222

Archaeology & History

Not far from the middle of this small town there lived, many centuries ago, a sacred spring of water dedicated to St. Catharine.  Described in local field-names from 1697 (as St. Catherin’s Well), all trace of it has long since vanished.  Indeed, even when Henry Ball (1856) wrote about it, local knowledge of it had already fallen into obscurity.  He could merely tell us that,

“At the end of Newport, in what was called “the Colony,” was St. Catharine’s Well, and the road from thence to Finkle lane was named Catharine street.”

Folklore

St Catharine’s festival date—known as Cattern Day in some parts of England—is November 25.

References:

  1. Ball, Henry W., The Social History and Antiquities of Barton-upon-Humber, M. Ball: Barton-upon-Humber 1856.
  2. Cameron, Kenneth, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire – volume 2, EPNS: Nottingham 1991.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St. Mungo’s Well, Peebles, Peeblesshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 2523 4045

Archaeology & History

St Mungo’s Well, 1858 map

Highlighted on the 1858 OS-map, two-thirds the way up the High Street, this long forgotten sacred well was described by the Ordnance Survey lads in their Name Book (1856) as “an excellent spring”—and no doubt an ever-flowing one, even in the greatest of droughts.  But it had already been destroyed when they came here.  It was mentioned in passing by William Chambers’ (1856), who described it as a “public fountain” dedicated to old Mungo, a.k.a. St Kentigern.  But its position in the High Street wasn’t where it originally emerged.  Local tradition told it was once on the slopes of Venlaw immediately north of the town, possibly making it into the folklore category of “Wells that Move”—usually because the spirit of the place has been offended.

But in truth, little is known about its mythic history.  Its origin seems, as with so many ancient sites, entangled in what Dr Gunn (1908) in his definitive work on the history of Peebles church explained, the heathen “superstitious regard for fountains”, pre-dating the christian dedications.  St Mungo himself, said Gunn,

“is remembered in Peebles to-day by his holy well upon the slopes of Venlaw, hallowed by its use in the Sacrament of Baptism.”

It’s profane history tells simply that, in 1728, its waters were piped into the trough on High Street for public use.  It became damaged sometime in the early 19th century, but some remains of the  stonework were found when roadworks were done here in 1845.  It would be good if we could recover further information about this important holy well.

References:

  1. Chambers, William, A History of Peeblesshire, W. & R. Chambers: Edinburgh 1864.
  2. Gunn, P., The Book of Peebles Church, A. Walker: Galashiels 1908.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 


St. Columba’s Well, Derry, Co. Derry

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – C 43117 16615

Archaeology & History

Long since gone, there are very few references to this once sacred site, which seemed to comprise of three sacred wells next to each other, each with its own formal dedication.  This would have made it one fuck of an important place in early- and pre-christian times.  But even when Thomas Colby (1837) and his mates surveyed the area, it seems like it was on its last legs.  He told that:

Site on Colby’s 1837 map

“As connected with the ancient history of Derry the sacred springs, called St. Columb’s Wells, claim some notice in this place.  They are, or rather were, three in number — for one has been dried up, or diverted from its original locality — and are situated near the Roman Catholic chapel, outside the wall.  It appears from the Irish annals that each of these wells had its peculiar name, one being called Tobar Adamnam, another Tobar Martain, and the third Tobar Colum — but the two former names are now quite forgotten, and the springs are popularly called St. Columb’s Wells.  They are regarded with much superstitious veneration by the Roman Catholic peasantry, but no celebration of St. Columb’s festival is now held at them.”

The wells were found very close to St. Columba’s bullaun stone, which possessed its own healing abilities.  The two sites had symbiotic ceremonial relationships with each other, doubtless performed in bygone centuries on St. Columba’s old festival date of June 9.

References:

  1. Colby, Thomas, Ordnance Survey of the County of Londonderry, HMG: Dublin 1837.
  2. Doherty, William, Derry Columbkille, Brown & Nolan: Dublin 1899.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Holy Well, Kislingbury, Northamptonshire

Holy Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SP 698 575

Archaeology & History

Hollowell Farm on 1885 map

A mile south of Kislingbury village, just by the roadside is the old Hill Farm.  In times gone by—as the early OS-maps show—a trackway led from here, westwards, for just a few hundred yards, until it reached the old farm of Hollowell Hill, all trace of which has long since gone.  The farm owed its name to the existence of a holy well mentioned briefly in 14th century records in the Cartulary of St. Andrews, Northampton, where it was described as Halywellhille, or the Holy Well on a hill.  All trace of it seems to have been lost.  A ‘Spring’ that is shown on the 1885 map, a few hundred yards south of the old farm, seems to be the closest contender, but it seems more likely that the well was adjacent to, or beneath the farm-building.

References:

  1. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Northamptonshire, Cambridge University Press 1975.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Market Cross, Hastings, Sussex

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TQ 828 099

Also Known as

  1. North End’s Cross

Archaeology & History

This long-lost stone cross should not be confused with the more recent one, erected by one Mr H. C. Richards in 1901 to commemorate some malarky about Edward VII.  The one in this profile was much older than that, although both of them were erected close to each other.  The older cross was found, said T.H. Cole (1884), “at the head of the Town, near All Saints’ Church.” Also known as the North End’s Cross, the old market was held here and close by were the gallows, the whipping post and the stocks.

References:

  1. Cole, Thomas H., The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield, Hastings St Leonards Phil. Society 1884.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Chapel Well, Clackmannan, Clackmannanshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 9125 9122

Archaeology & History

Chapel Well on 1866 map

A little-known holy well on the south-side of the village has seen better days – if indeed it’s still there!  Located 500 yards due south of the destroyed Lady Well, this spring of water gained it name, according to local lore, from its proximity to an ancient chapel—remains of which have been frugal to say the least!  Shown on the earliest Ordnance Survey maps and continued to be shown until the 1950s, it seems that the first written account of it was in the Object Name Book of 1861 where it was told:

“A Spring well adjacent to Chapelhill.  It is cut in a freestone rock, from which issues a constant supply of pure spring water even in the dryest Seasons.  It is not impregnated with any Kind of Mineral.  A Chapel Stood near it at one time, the site of which Cannot be pointed out by any person in the neighbourhood.”

A visit by one of the Ordnance Survey lads here in 1950 found the well to be blocked-up by silt and soil; and on a quick visit I made here today I could find no remains of the well, but it may have been beneath the mass of excessive vegetation.  A subsequent visit in the winter may prove more fruitful – he sez, hopefully…..

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Village Cross, Leighterton, Gloucestershire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – ST 824 910

Archaeology & History

Charles Pooley (1868) gave a somewhat vague description of this site, telling that, “there is authority for believing that at one time a Cross was set up in the village.”  I can find no other reference to this monument which, I presume, has been destroyed.  (the grid reference cited is an approximation near the centre of the village, where village crosses were usually located)

References:

  1. Pooley, Charles, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, Longmans Green: London 1868.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

High Cross, Elkstone, Gloucestershire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SO 9674 1321

Archaeology & History

High Cross on 1883 map

First shown on a 1775 map of the region, this long-lost site is preserved in several place-names near the old crossroads a half-mile north of Elkstone village.  It is mentioned, albeit briefly in Charles Pooley (1868) county survey, where he told that, “in former times a very handsome and lofty High Cross stood in this parish.”  However, there’s the possibility that the name ‘High’ cross may here derive simply from a cross located at a high point in the landscape.

An old ‘Guide Post’ marked on the early Ordnance Survey map at the same spot has been suggested by Danny Sullivan—and not without good reason—to be a prehistoric standing stone.  He may be right.

References:

  1. Pooley, Charles, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, Longmans Green: London 1868.
  2. Sullivan, D.P., Old Stones of the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean, Reardon: Cheltenham 1999.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Churchyard Cross, St Briavel’s, Gloucestershire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SO 559 047

Archaeology & History

At the church of St. Mary at the northern end of the village, Charles Pooley’s (1868) county survey told that,

“There was formerly a Cross in the churchyard near the south porch, but it was removed in the year 1830, when the new tower was built.”

It would seem there is no longer any trace of the monument.

References:

  1. Pooley, Charles, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, Longmans Green: London 1868.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian