Bogle’s Well, Glasgow, Lanarkshire

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’.

Folklore

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….

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Glasgow, TNA 2017.
  2. Briggs, Katharine, A Dictionary of Fairies, Penguin: Harmondsworth 1979.
  3. Grant, William (ed.), The Scottish National Dictionary – volume 2, SNDA: Edinburgh 1941.
  4. Henderson, William, Notes on the Folklore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders, W. Satchell: London 1879.
  5. MacGeorge, Andrew, Old Glasgow, Blackie & Son: Glasgow 1880.
  6. MacKinlay, James M., Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs, William Hodge: Glasgow 1893.
  7. Steele, Joyce, Seeking Patterns of Lordship, Justice and Worship in the Scottish Landscape, Glasgow University 2014.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.857998, -4.242440 Bogle’s Well

Rocking Stone, Warley Moor, Halifax, West Yorkshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – SE 03399 30199

Also Known as:

  1. Sleepy Lowe

Getting Here

The old rocking stone, on the right
The old rocking stone, on the right (looking east)

From Denholme, take the A6033 Hebden Bridge road up, but shortly past the great bend turn off right up the steep road towards the moorland windmills until you reach the flat dirt-tracked road, past the reservoir below.  A coupla hundred yards past the track to the reservoir, take the footpath south into the tribbly grasslands and moor.  A few hundred yards down you’ll note the large rock outcrop ahead of you. The rocking stone is there!

Archaeology & History

The old rocking stone
The old rocking stone

A small moorland arena with a neglected history. Many lost memories surround this site, with barely legible ruins from medieval and Victorian periods prevailing against scanty snippets of neolithic and Bronze Age rumours and remains.  The rocking stone here—which moves slightly with a bit of effort—sits amidst a gathering of other large rocks, some of which have debatable cup-markings on their smoothly eroded surfaces.

Our rocking stone, resting 1350 feet above seal level, was first mentioned in John Watson’s (1775) magnum opus, who gave a quite lengthy description of the site:

“On a common called Saltonstall-moor, is what the country people call the Rocking-stone… The height of this on the west side (which is the highest) is, as I remember, about three yards and a half.  It is a large piece of rock, one end of which rests on several stones, between two of which is a pebble of a different grit, seemingly put there for a support, and so placed that it could not possibly be taken out without breaking, or removing the rocks, so that in all probability they have been laid together by art.  It ought to be observed, that the stone in question, from the form and position of it, could never be a rocking stone, though it is always distinguished by that name.  The true rocking stone appeared to me to lie a small distance from it, thrown off its centre.  The other part of this stone is laid upon a kind of pedestal, broad at the bottom, but narrow in the middle; and round this pedestal is a passage which, from every appearance, seems to have been formed by art, but for what purpose is the question.”

Dubious cup-markings
Dubious cup-markings
Watson's 1775 drawing of the Rocking Stone
Watson’s 1775 drawing of the Rocking Stone

Watson then goes onto remark about other rocking stones in Cornwall and further afield with attendant “druid basins” upon them, noting that there were also “rock basins” here on Warley Moor, a few of which had been “worked into this rocking stone,” which he thought “helps to prove that the Druids used it.”  And although these rock basins are large and numerous over several of these rocks, like the cup-markings that also scatter the surfaces, they would seem to be Nature’s handiwork.

Turner's 1913 drawing
Turner’s 1913 drawing

Some 60 years later when the literary thief John Crabtree (1836) plagiarized Watson’s words verbatim into his much lesser tome, it seemed obvious he’d never ventured to explore the site.  But in the much more valuable historical expansion written by John Leyland around 1867, he at least visited the site and found the old stone, “still resting on its shady pedestal.” Later still, when Whiteley Turner (1913) ventured this way on one of his moorland bimbles, he added nothing more to the mythic history of these west-facing megaliths…

Folklore

Still reputed locally to have been a site used by the druids; a local newspaper account in the 1970s also told how local people thought this place to be “haunted by goblins.”

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Crabtree, John, Concise History of the Parish and Vicarage of Halifax, Hartley & Walker: Halifax 1836.
  3. Leyland, F.A., The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax, by the Reverend John Watson, M.A., R.Leyland: Halifax n.d. (c.1867).
  4. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 3, Cambridge University Press 1961.
  5. Turner, Whiteley, A Spring-Time Saunter round and about Bronte Lane, Halifax Courier 1913.
  6. Watson, John, The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax, T. Lowndes: London 1775.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.768126, -1.949914 Rocking Stone

St. Canna’s Stone, Llangan, Carmarthenshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – SN 1770 1874

Also Known as:

  1. Chair of St. Canna
  2. St Canna’s Chair

Archaeology & History

St. Canna’s Chair Stone

This once important healing stone that was moved a short distance (from grid reference SN 1775 1875 to SN 1770 1874 according to officials) to its present spot, around 1925, whilst having a long history according to the folk traditions of Carmarthenshire, was previously questioned as an authentic site by none other than Prof John Rhys (1875), following his visit to the site in the 1870s.  Although Rhys seemed an isolated voice, some modern archaeologists have also questioned its veracity.  It’s difficult to say precisely what the original nature of the stone may have been, but it was certainly accommodated in medieval times as a healing stone and used in conjunction with a pagan well – which was of course, accommodated by the Church.  If the stone itself had a megalithic pedigree, as some have believed, we know not what it may have been…

As Janet & Colin Bord (2006) wrote, the stone “still survives, but to the casual observer it looks like any other abandoned block of stone,” sitting innocuously within the ring of trees surrounding the church.  An early account of the stone was written by E.L. Barnwell (1872), who told:

“The present church of Llangan in Carmarthenshire is a wretched structure, built in 1820, and is about to be removed, as the population has long since migrated to some distance from it, and in a few years even the memory of Canna’s church having once existed here may cease. There is, however, a relic still left, which we trust will not be overlooked by the local authorities, as indeed it seems to have been hitherto ; for no notice occurs of it in the account of the parish in Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary or any other work. This relic is a rude stone, forming a kind of chair, lying in a field adjoining the churchyard, and about thirty or forty yards from it. When it was removed to its present position is unknown. There was also a well below the church called Ffynnon Canna; and there is still a small brook available, if required, for following the rules prescribed to those who wish to avail themselves of the curative powers of the saint’s chair. It appears that the principal maladies which are thus supposed to be cured are ague and intestinal complaints. The prescribed practice was as follows. The patient first threw some pins into the well, a common practice in many other parts of Wales, where wells are still thought to be invested with certain powers. Then he drank a fixed quantity of the water, and sometimes bathed in the well, for the bath was not always resorted to. The third step was to sit down in the chair for a certain length of time; and if the patient could manage to sleep under these circumstances, the curative effects of the operation were considerably increased. This process was continued for some days, even for a fortnight or longer. A man aged seventy-eight, still living near the spot, remembers the well and hundreds of pins in it, as well as patients undergoing the treatment; but, about thirty or thirty- five years ago, the tenant carried off the soil between the well and the watercourse, so as to make the spring level with the well, which soon after partly disappeared, and from that time the medical reputation of the saint and her chair has gradually faded away, and will, in the course of a generation or two, be altogether forgotten.”

Folklore

In Wirt Sykes (1880) classic text, he told us that the field where the original Canna’s Chair may have been, possessed fairy-lore that we find at other sites, usually ascribed as prehistoric.  He wrote:

“In the middle of this parish there is a field called Parc y Fonwent, or the churchyard field, where, according to local tradition, the church was to have been originally built; but the stones brought to the spot during the day were at night removed by invisible hands to the site of the present church.  Watchers in the dark heard the goblins engaged in this work and pronouncing in clear and correct Welsh these words, “Llangan, dyma’r fan,” which means, “Llangan, here is the spot.””

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, The Monumental History of the Early British Church, SPCK: London 1889.
  2. Baring-Gould, S. & Fisher, John, Lives of the British Saints – volume 2, London 1907.
  3. Barnwell, E.L., “Canna’s Chair,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 3 (4th Series), 1872.
  4. Bord, Janet & Colin, Cures and Curses: Ritual and Cult at Holy Wells, Heart of Albion: Wymeswold 2006.
  5. Breverton, Terry, The Book of Welsh Saints, Bro Morganwg: Glyndwr 2000.
  6. Davies, Jonathan Ceredig, Folk-lore of West and Mid-Wales, Welsh Gazette: Aberystwyth 1911.
  7. “D.M.”, “Canna’s Chair,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 4 (4th Series), 1875.
  8. Rhys, John, “On Some of Our Inscribed Stones,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 4 (4th Series), 1875.
  9. Sikes, Wirt, British Goblins, Sampson Low: London 1880.
  10. Sharkey, John (ed.), Ogham Monuments in Wales, Llanerch: Felinfach 1992.
  11. Westwood, J.O., Lapidarium Walliae: The Early Inscribed and Sculptured Stones of Wales, Oxford University Press 1879.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

St Canna's Stone

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St Canna\'s Stone 51.837433, -4.647453 St Canna\'s Stone