Petrifying Well, Guilsborough, Northamptonshire

Sacred Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SP 664 733

Archaeology & History

It’s difficult to know precisely which category this site should come under: sacred well or just a healing well.  I’ve opted for ‘sacred’, due to its peculiar and rare properties, i.e., turning things into stone.  For a spring to do such a thing would have been seen by our ancestors as it having some sort of magickal or supernatural ability.  Sadly however, it seems that all trace of this well has long since gone.

It was described only in passing in Peter Hill’s (2005) folklore survey of Northamptonshire, to which he gave no reference. He told us simply,

“Guilsborough had a petrifyiong spring near the Grange, which was ‘good for several diseases.”

None of the early OS-maps of the area show any such ‘well’ immediately in or around Guilsborough’s Grange and so I surmise (perhaps in error) that one of the two ponds to the south of the Grange is fed by the spring in question.  It would be good to know for certain!


  1. Hill, Peter, Folklore of Northamptonshire, Tempus: Stroud 2005.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Ostor Hill, West Haddon, Northamptonshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SP 641 715

Also Known as:

  1. Oster Hill

Archaeology & History

At the northeastern edge of Torkington Lodge, nearly a mile east of West Haddon, the antiquarian John Bridge (1791) told of the existence of prehistoric barrow that was still visible here around the year 1720.  Described by the Royal Commission lads (1981), when they visited the site they found that “no trace of a mound exists.” Just a few years earlier the place-name analysts, Gover, Mawer & Stenton (1975)  told that:

“There is a tumulus here and it would seem most likely that the name goes back to Old Scandinavian austr, ‘east’, and haugr, hence “eastern barrow.”


Mr J. Bridge (1791) reported how the local people said, “according to vulgar tradition, are buried several officers who fell in battle” within the tumulus.  He also suggested the name of the mound derived from “the tumulus of Publius Ostorius”: a Roman statesman and general who governed Britain from 47-52 AD.


  1. Bridge, John, The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire – volume 1, Thomas Payne: Oxford 1791.
  2. Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M., The Place-Names of Northamptonshire, Cambridge University Press 1975.
  3. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire – Volume III: Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire, HMSO: London 1981.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian