Jinny Well, Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire

Sacred Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 82377 39458

Getting Here

Easy to locate: it’s just by the roadside on the left-hand side of the road, Jinny Lane, coming out of the village, just after the last house where the field begins.

Archaeology & History

Nowt to write home about, as they say.  The waters here trickle from the earth into an old stone trough — but they don’t look too appetizing (even I didn’t have a drink, which is something of a rarity!).  Its the folktale accompanying this little site, giving a distinct hint of some heathen past, that I found intriguing.

Folklore

Here was once the spirit of a woman called Jinny – who gave her name to the road it’s on – that wandered betwixt the well and an old stone, once found further up the hillside (after a bitta digging, we found the remains of the old stone, previously an authentic monolith). It was said that if you wandered along the road on certain moonlit nights, her spirit would chase you. To make matters worse, the ghost was a headless one!

Jinny’s spirit originally resided, peacefully, in the broken old stone atop of the hill. At a certain time of the year, the spirit of the stone would venture downhill to drink from the waters here (much as we find at Rollright and other places). But one day a xtian priest came along and, because of its heathen association, broke the old stone in half and cursed the spirit which roamed between the sites. Thereafter, Jinny’s ghost wandered in torment, with her head hacked off, scaring people half to death when they saw her. And so, another priest was eventually called who, to the satisfaction of local people, eventually put Jinny’s ghost to rest, as they say. It seems to have been a successful ritual, as no-one has reporting seeing the headless ghost for many a long year.

References:

  1. Byrne, Clifford H., Newchurch-in-Pendle: Folklore, Fact and Fiction, Marsden Antiquarians: Nelson 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Jinny Well

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Jinny Well 53.851071, -2.269338 Jinny Well

Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 822 387

Also Known as:

  1. Pendle Stone Circle

Archaeology & History

A destroyed site mentioned by several local historians. It was positioned at the valley bottom just below Faughs, a hundred yards west of Lower Moss End, where today it is simply overgrown meadows with the typical excess of Juncus reeds.  As local investigator John Dixon said, there are “five stones shown on (the 1848) map just west of Spen Brook Mill.”

In the 1970s, one writer described there being several uprights still in place, but a visit here a few weeks back (though I – unusually! – didn’t walk all through the boggy grounds and explore as extensively as I normally would) found nothing.

Its geomancy, however, was striking. The unnamed hill immediately to the north of its position (at the southern end of the legendary Pendle Hill, a coupla hundred yards west of St. Mary’s church) rises up like a great singular ‘pap’ which, to our old ancestors, was animated with female spirit. I sat here in the pouring rain looking up at this hill and its presence in front of the circle was striking.

…And so I walked onto the top of the said hill. Thereupon I found a small gathering of rocks, not unlike a cairn-spoil. When I enquired with a few local people about the age or nature of this rock-pile, I found no-one seemed aware of its existence. Weird. But from the hill itself, the view is excellent – and the small valley amidst which the old circle once stood teems with legends and myth: of cailleachs, ghosts, wells, witches and more. An excellent spot!

The local writer, historian and walker, John Dixon, sent us the following notes of his exploration here:

“Clifford Byrne, the late Nelson antiquarian, mentions in his book ‘Newchurch in Pendle’ the site of a former stone circle that stood just below Faughs, a hundred yards west of Lower Moss End. Today no large stones of any kind can be located anywhere near this spot, the stones having been removed or broken up some time in the past. However, the 1848 6” OS map records the number and position of these stones as being in two parallel lines about a hundred yards apart lined up west to east. The northerly line (SD 823 389) consists of 3 stones, the southerly (SD 823 387) of 4 stones, all being some 3 yards apart.

“It appears that we have an avenue of stones, not a circle. But why their position in the landscape at the headwaters of two valley streams? The Sabden Brook starts its journey westward to meet with the Calder from the stones, while Dimpenley Clough rises from the stones running east to join Pendle Water – could this be of any significance?”

References:

  1. Byrne, Clifford, Newchurch-in-Pendle: Folklore, Fact, Fancy, Legends and Traditions, Marsden Antiquarians: Nelson 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Newchurch-in-Pendle circle

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Newchurch-in-Pendle circle 53.844555, -2.271236 Newchurch-in-Pendle circle