Holy Well (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – TA 026 223
Archaeology & History
This curiously-named, lost holy well was to be found somewhere between the old terrace at West Field and the old road of West Acridge, but even when Henry Ball (1856) wrote about it, the site had passed into history. He told that,
“In the old enclosures to the west of the town was a spring of clear water called St. Trunnion’s well, and in a field in the West Acridge a very old thorn tree called St, Trunnion’s tree, which was standing in 1736; but who St. Trunnion was is not known…”
The close proximity of the tree with the well is highly likely. Throughout the British Isles there are many relationships where sacred trees and wells of the same name are next to each other and we have little reason to doubt this was the case here. However, unless local historians can uncover some old field-name maps, the exact location of the site seems to have been lost. It was named as St Tronians in 1665; with his sacred tree mentioned in early enclosure awards dated 1681 and 1697 respectively.
The enigmatic saint ‘Trunnion’ is thought to derive, not from some old hermit or heathen holy dood, but from the corruption of an early word: “a perversion of Trin-union or Tri-union, used as an asservation or oath”; although another option cited by Cameron (1991) is that it derives from “trinune, trin-une, referring to the Trinity”—which would explain the sanctification of the waters.
Holy Well (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – TA 032 222
Archaeology & History
Not far from the middle of this small town there lived, many centuries ago, a sacred spring of water dedicated to St. Catharine. Described in local field-names from 1697 (as St. Catherin’s Well), all trace of it has long since vanished. Indeed, even when Henry Ball (1856) wrote about it, local knowledge of it had already fallen into obscurity. He could merely tell us that,
“At the end of Newport, in what was called “the Colony,” was St. Catharine’s Well, and the road from thence to Finkle lane was named Catharine street.”
St Catharine’s festival date—known as Cattern Day in some parts of England—is November 25.
We don’t know for certain the precise whereabouts of this long lost healing well, but it would seem to be the one highlighted here (right) on the 1855 OS-map. However, I think it equally possible that the small unnamed building, roughly halfway between the highlighted ‘Well’ and Spring Cottage, where the walling meets, could be the site in question. It’s one or the other!
When Thomas Blashill (1896) wrote of the Blind Well in his standard history work of the area, memory of it was already falling away. In discussing where local people could wash and look after their health, he told that
“There was one place in the parish where washing seems to have been practised as a curative measure. Down in the East Field, near to Spring Cottage Farm, was the Blindwell, to which the people had access. If they used its waters freely when suffering from sore eyes, their faith would probably be rewarded.”
This long lost wayside cross was described in various local records from 1621 upwards. In the definitive place-name survey of this area, Kenneth Cameron (1991) told us that this was,
“A medieval cross dedicated to St James, situated at the point where the Thornton and Burnham roads meet… Mr R. Newton comments, “said to have replaced a wayside shrine. The foundations of the shrine were exposed when the Home Guard dug a defensive trench there at the beginning of the last war. Foundations destroyed by a bomb.””
Cameron, Kenneth, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire – volume 2, EPNS: Nottingham 1991.
Stone Circle (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – SE 748 282?
Archaeology & History
I’ve looked and looked for info on this seemingly lost site, but have found very little. It lent its name to the very woodland within, or on whose edges, it could once be found. First described as early as 1284 in the ‘Calendar of Patent Rolls’ – where is appeared as ‘Ringestainhirst‘ – and then in the Testamenta Eboracensia in 1391, it is mentioned several other times before falling into nothing but literary memory in the middle of the 19th century.
We don’t know for sure where the circle was located, though one Latin reference describes it in proximity to a hermitage once known as St. Mary Magdalen’s Chapel at Howden: “heremitae de Ryngstanhyrste.” The site would likely have been on the highest point in the locality, which may put it where the great church now stands, or perhaps on the more northern and western outskirts of the township. Are there any Howden historians reading this who might be able to throw a bit more light on the issue?
The great place-name authority A.H. Smith (1937) thought that the Ringstone Hurst (woodland) at Howden got its name from a “wood near the circular stone”; but modern etymologists would place a much greater likelihood that the woodland owed its name to the now lost stone circle that was once in this locality.
Raine, James (ed.), Testamenta Eboracensia; or, Wills Registered at York, J.B. Nichols: London 1836.
Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the East Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1937.