Sacred Well: OS Grid Reference – NS 597 650
Archaeology & History
Of all the ancient wells in the city of Glasgow, this has to be one of the most intriguing! Descriptions of it are few and far between, but it is the name of the site which is of interest, to folklorists and occult historians alike. For the word ‘Bogle’ is another term for a ‘boggart’ or goblin of some sort! The well is mentioned in Andy MacGeorge’s (1880) excellent study in his description of ancient wells in the city. Citing notes from the 17th century, amidst many sites,
“Another was Bogle’s Well, in regard to which there is a minute of the town council “that Bogillis Well should be assayed for bringing and convoying the water of the same to the Hie street according to the right the town hes thereof,” and the magistrates are recommended to arrange for having this done “by conduits of led.””
…Obviously in the days when they were clueless about lead-poisoning! The word ‘bogillis’ is the early plural form of the bogle, or bogill (Grant 1941:201). But where exactly was this old well? Are there any other records hiding away to help us locate its original position? It seems to have been one in a cluster of legendary and holy wells in a very small area scattered between Glasgow’s cathedral, down the High Street and to the northern banks of the River Clyde… (the grid-reference given for this site is an approximation) In a less esoteric fashion, the occult historian Jan Silver suggested that the name of the Well may relate to the family name, ‘Bogle’.
Traditionally ascribed in the lower counties of England to be an evil malicious sprite, in more northern counties and in Scotland the creature was said by Katherine Briggs (1979) to be a more “virtuous creature”, akin to the helpful brownies or urisks of country lore. This was said to be the case in William Henderson’s (1868) Folklore of the Northern Counties. Whether this well was haunted or the home of a bogle, we do not know as the folklore of this site appears to be lost; so I appeal to any students who might be able to enlighten us further on the place. The Forteans amongst you might have a cluster of ‘hauntings’ hereby, perhaps….
- Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Glasgow, TNA 2017.
- Briggs, Katharine, A Dictionary of Fairies, Penguin: Harmondsworth 1979.
- Grant, William (ed.), The Scottish National Dictionary – volume 2, SNDA: Edinburgh 1941.
- Henderson, William, Notes on the Folklore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders, W. Satchell: London 1879.
- MacGeorge, Andrew, Old Glasgow, Blackie & Son: Glasgow 1880.
- MacKinlay, James M., Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs, William Hodge: Glasgow 1893.
- Steele, Joyce, Seeking Patterns of Lordship, Justice and Worship in the Scottish Landscape, Glasgow University 2014.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian