St. Patrick’s Well, Heysham, Lancashire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 4109 6159

Getting Here

From Heysham village centre by the little roundabout, go down the gorgeous olde-worlde Main Street for about 150 yards, keeping your eyes peeled for the little track up to the tree-lined church of St. Peter.  Just before going up the path to the church, set back at the roadside, you’ll see an old pump in an arch in the walling.  That’s St. Patrick’s Well!

St.Patrick’s Well, Heysham

Archaeology & History

Not to be confused with another St. Patrick’s Well a few miles north of here, little has been said of this old holy well in literary tomes (even Henry Taylor’s (1906) magnum opus missed it!)  Sadly the waters here have long since been diverted (which violates religious tradition, quite frankly), and all we see today is an old iron water-pump set inside a stone arch, beneath which – I presume – the waters once ran.  An old plaque on the site of this ancient well tells:

“This is one of two holy wells in Heysham village (the other, Sainty Well, is on private property and covered over), whose dedications are long since lost.  Latterly the water from this well was used for utilitarian gardening purposes within the confines of the old rectory.

“Previously the well had fallen into disuse, suffered from surface contamination and became rubble-filled when the bank above gave way in the mid-1800s.  In the early 1900s, the well-head was again rebuilt and the well itself was cleaned and made safe by capping with concrete.  Recently (May 2002) the well-head has been refurbished and water artificially introduced, thus turning a derelict area into a feature of the village.”

It would be good if local people could complain to the regional water authority and make them redirect the waters beneath the well, back to the surface, to allow devotees — both Christian and otherwise — to partake of the holy blood sanctified by St. Patrick many centuries ago.  And without fluoride or other unholy chemical compounds that desecrate our waters.  Just the sacred waters of God’s Earth please!

Folklore

This is one of the many places in the British Isles where St. Patrick was said to have landed after he’d converted all the Irish into the christian cult!  One of the traditions was that St. Patrick said the well would never run dry — which was shown to be untrue when the waters were filled in with rubble in the 19th century.  The same saint also used the waters from the well to baptise and convert the peasants of his time.

References:

  1. Quick, R.C., Morecambe and Heysham, Past and Present, Morecambe Times 1962.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

St Patrick's Well

loading map - please wait...

St Patrick\'s Well 54.046929, -2.901158 St Patrick\'s Well

Torrisholme Barrow, Morecambe, Lancashire

Tumulus:  OS Grid Reference – SD 4596 6425

Getting Here

Various ways up this old hill, visible from all angles it seems.  I came up via the housing estate near where us friend lives, near Bare Lane Station, through the houses and up the footpath.  But you can just as easy (if not easier) walk up from the country lane and fields beneath its eastern side.  Much nicer!

Archaeology & History

Torrisholme Barrow
Torrisholme Barrow

As many northerners will tell: gerrin information from the Lancashire archaeologists about prehistoric sites is troublesome (must be Southerners running the show!).  There’s tons of stuff in this good county, but archaeo-info is pretty poor on the ground.  This great old tomb for example, is designated as a “round barrow” on the Lancashire County Council monuments and records listing, but there’s no other info telling when it was dug, who by, the size of the tomb, what was found here, etc.  Pretty poor to be honest (c’mon chaps – get yer fingers out!).  The best info on-line comes from the more dedicated amateur enthusiasts.

A local historian told us that there was nowt up here, but my nose told me otherwise — so up we tramped!  It was pretty obvious once we’d got to the top here, that some ancient mound had been built up.

“This has all the hallmarks of a tomb,” I said.

Torrisholme Barrow, looking SW
Torrisholme Barrow, looking SW

The spirit of the ancestor herein (whoever s/he was) had excellent views and flights to numerous important hills 360° all round here.  A perfect place for a tomb! And when we returned into the Darklands of our Yorkshire abodes, we found this notion to be true.  Marked on early OS-maps as a tumulus, next to the tell-tale giveaway route of Barrow Lane, there are passing mentions of it in a couple of old local history books I’ve come across, but I’ve yet to find much more about it.  It’s a fine mound and of decent size, well worth checking out if you’re in the area.  Once I get more details of the archaeological finds from here, I’ll add the data to TNA (but based on past performances and responses from Lancashire archaeo’s, I wouldn’t hold your breath…)

And for any Morecambe historians who might be able to find more: what — if anything — is known of the ‘Fartle Barrow’, now swallowed by the encroachment of the sea, just a few hundred yards west of here?

Early OS-map showing barrow

Folklore

In days of olde, this site was an old moot or meeting hill: one of the northern Law or council meeting hills.  Quite how far back this gathering tradition up here goes, aint known.  We do know however that there was a christian tradition enacted here, at Easter, of local church doods taking a cross up the top of the hill (does anyone know the story behind the old Cross Hill, half-a-mile south of here?).  There’s obviously quite a lot more pre-christian activities occurrent round here than has been previously thought.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Torrisholme barrow

loading map - please wait...

Torrisholme barrow 54.071297, -2.827140 Torrisholme barrow