Katie Thirsty’s Well, Logie, Stirlingshire

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 81787 97653

Getting Here

The scraggy hawthorn of Katie Thirsty’s Well

Not too tricky to locate, as long as you get onto the right footpath!  Take either road (both steep narrow and very bendy in places!) up from Logie on one side or Bridge of Allan on the other, towards Sheriffmuir and head to the Faerie or Highlandman’s Well.  About 150 yards before this, note the small car-park.  From here, go through the gate as if you’re walking to Dumyat, but 50 yards along the footpath it splits into two.  Take the lower right-hand path and keep walking for another 600 yards until you see a large worn hawthorn tree on your left, with boggy land just in front of it that runs to the path you’re walking on.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

‘Katie Thirsty’ is a most intriguing character who pops up at a number of healing wells, primarily in Scotland.  Dedications to her are known near Abernethy, Falkirk, Innerleithen, Killearn, Kilsyth and elsewhere, with one example just over the Scottish border in Northumberland.  So who was she? And what’s the story behind this little known example, close to the ruinous Iron Age village east of Dumyat?  The truth is, we don’t know for sure as yet.  Tales are told of a local lady called ‘Katie’ at the wells near Abernethy and Kilsyth, each with their own domestic myth—but it seems that a wider mythic status underlies this dedication.

One very fine notion comes from the pen of Pictish researcher Ronald Henderson (2008; 2014), who tells that the name derives from a corruption of both St. Katherine of Alexandria [Katie] and the Pictish King, Drust or Drustan [Thirsty].  The latter etymological postulation finds faith in the fact that the great crags of Dumyat less than a mile to the east is universally credited with being the last Pictish stronghold at the old hillfort there.

The flowing clear waters

…This well on the hills north of Logie village—with its old hawthorn for companion above the old path to medieval Fossachie village—flows nicely, and its freezing waters are very good to drink.  Twenty yards east of the boggy overflow are the overgrown remains of an isolated Iron Age ‘homestead’ or hut circle, and the waters of Katie Thirsty’s Well would have been the primary drinking supply to the people living there in ancient times.

Very little is known about the specific history or folklore of the site and it is mentioned only in passing by David Morris (1935) who told us simply:

‘“Katie Thirty’s Well’ was the old name of a clear spring on the hillside by the track leading to Dumyat.”

It’s a beautiful spot to visit, with lovely views for many miles to the east, south and west.  If you’re going to visit the Fairy or Highlandman’s Well nearby, take time to visit Katie Thirsty’s refreshing flow too.

As for Katie herself: does anyone have their own ideas about her…?

References:

  1. Henderson, Ronald W., Rex Pictorum – The History of the Kings of the Picts, Perth 2008.
  2. Henderson, Ronald W., “Drust… of the Hundred Battles,” in Celtic Guide, 3:4, April 2014.
  3. Morris, David B., “Causewayhead a Hundred Years Ago,” in Stirling Natural History & Archaeological Society Transactions, 1935.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.156829, -3.904796 Katie Thirsty\'s Well

Lipney, Blairlogie, Stirlingshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 8436 9803

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 145078

Getting Here

From Menstrie, walk up the path behind the post office and head up onto the hills, following the track that runs up alongside the Menstrie Burn.  After about 500 yards, crossing a stream, the path has a sort of hairpin kink and, shortly past this a smaller path leads off up into the grasslands on your left.  The standing stone can be seen up this path about 100 yards up.

Archaeology & History

The Lipney Stone

We came across this small standing stone, less than four feet high, after running and jumping down the steep eastern slope of Dumyat at some speed — or rather, Naomi came across the little thing and then told me about it after I’d run round and further down the slope towards the upper stretches of the Menstrie Burn (I was knackered!).

It’s a curious little thing inasmuch as it stands here alone, with no other companions close by; although there were a number of other stones scattering the grasslands hereabouts and other stones may await discovery.  Little seems to have been said of the site.  The Canmore record tells:

“It measures 1.1m in height, 0.7m in breadth and 0.4m in thickness, and is aligned with its long axis NE-SW. It rises with straight sides and leans to the SE.”

There are extensive remains of earthworks scattering the slopes hereby, though much of this seems medieval in nature.  Any further information about this old stone would be much appreciated!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.160781, -3.863319 Lipney stone