Crawley Spring, Glencorse, Midlothian

Healing Well (covered):  OS Grid-Reference – NT 23894 63346

Archaeology & History

Site of Crawley Spring on 1854 map

Site of Crawley Spring on the 1854 map

Once found flowing freely beneath the shadow of the prehistoric hillfort of Castlelaw, this all-but-forgotten site was thankfully recorded in Hope & Telford’s (1813) survey of Edinburgh’s natural water supply.  Mr Telford said how “This noble spring rises from the bottom of a bank, at the foot of the Castlelaw Hill, at the edge of a small, low, almost marshy meadow close by the Glencorse Burn, a little way below the bridge.”  Twelve years after writing this, the well had been blocked and a cistern built over it.

It was proclaimed by local people to be medicinal (though to what ailments, I cannot find), but there was an effective confirmation of some medicinal qualities in the waters following an analysis in 1810 when very tiny mineral elements were found.  Mr Telford (1813) explained:

“The water is perfectly transparent and colourless, free from every smell and taste and is of excellent quality.  It has, as is the case with almost all spring water, some matters dissolved in it, though in smaller quantities than common… This foreign matter consist of carbonate of lime, muriate of soda, and sulphate of lime, with an excessively minute portion of magnesium salt. The proportions of these ingredients, in each pound, are nearly:

Carbonate of Lime – 0.43 of a grain
Muriate of Soda – 0.10 of a grain
Sulphate of Lime – 0.90 of a grain
Sulphate of Magnesia – 0.05 of a grain

The carbonate of lime is dissolved by means of carbonic acid, which is not in greater quantity than is barely sufficient for the purpose.  All of these ingredients are in themselves innocent to the human body; and in the quantity in which they are present in the water, do not affect its goodness.  The water is perfectly soft and fit for washing, infusing tea and other domestic purposes.  The water, therefore, is exceptional in every respect.”

When it came to the Crawley Spring waters being used to feed the habits of Edinburgh city, there was considerable opposition by the land-owner and local people who were, correctly, concerned that that ecosystem here would be adversely affected if the waters were to disappear.  And so it was that Earth’s blood was taken from the land and the people and the animals, to benefit and feed the religion of Industrialism and ‘progress’ once more…


  1. Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Edinburgh, TNA: Alva 2017.
  2. Hope, Thomas C. & Telford, Thomas, Reports on the Means of Improving the Supply of Water for the City of Edinburgh, A. Constable: Edinburgh

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Marchwell, Glencorse, Midlothian

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 2264 6212

Also known as:

  1. Canmore ID 51863
  2. Rullion Green
Site of circle on 1854 map

Sadly gone, there have been several literary reports of this once fine megalithic ring.  It was to be seen “on the right hand side of the main roadway from Edinburgh to Carlops, as it approaches the farm of Marchwell.”  When the site was described by the Scottish Royal Commission in 1929, some of the stones were apparently still standing.  They described it as occupying a site “at an elevation of between 800 and 900 feet above sea-level,” but told that the main reason for its destruction appeared “that it was broken up by the making of the highway, which cuts the knoll on its east side.”  They continued:

“Two of the stones, showing a height of about 15 inches above ground, remain in their original positions, while five others lying in close proximity are probably units that have been moved.  These five blocks, which are not earth-fast, are of similar character to the two remaining in situ, and all seven, judging from their basaltic character, appear to have been brought from a distance.”

A brief account of the circle in the 1845 New Statistical Account description of the Glencorse parish told that the site was 40 feet in diameter.  In 1941, two fragments of a food vessel were found in close proximity to where the circle had been; and in a visit here in 1970 by members of Ordnance Survey, two possible monoliths were reported in the walling which they thought might have originally come from the stone circle.  Unfortunately I’ve not been able to locate any early drawings or photos of the site – yet!


  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments & Constructions of Scotland, Midlothian and West Lothian, HMSO: Edinburgh 1929.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian