St. Oswald’s Well, Cathcart, Glasgow, Lanarkshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 5883 6056

Also Known as:

  1. Kirk Well

Archaeology & History

St Oswald, or the Kirk Well, on 1863 OS-map
St Oswald, or the Kirk Well, on 1863 OS-map

St. Oswald’s Well was described in Hew Scott’s (1920) magnum opus as being  beside the parish church of the same name, but other references to it are scant.  An old well-house was built besides or over the waters, which subsequently became known as the Kirk Well due to its proximity to the church, 125 yards to the northwest.  All trace of it appears to have gone.  The road to the west of the site also 125 yards away, called Kirkwell Road, seems to be the last piece of folk memory that remains.

St. Oswald himself was a British tribal leader of Northumbrian descent who, legend tells, went to Iona and became a christian.  He had to leave the island eventually and go back into Yorkshire to bring peace back into the northern counties.  Whether this Well of his was dedicated to him as a result of his journey from back south from Iona, we do not know. His saint’s day is August 5—very close indeed to that old heathen celebration time of Lughnasadh or Lammas.  Most likely this is not just a coincidence, but will have related to what local folk were doing before the christian impositions.


  1. Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Glasgow, TNA 2017.
  2. McNeill, F. Marian, The Silver Bough – volume 2: A Calendar of Scottish National Festivals, Candlemas to Harvest Home, William MacLellan Glasgow 1959.
  3. Scott, Hew, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae – volume 3: Synod of Glasgow & Ayr, Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh 1920.
  4. Steele, Joyce, Seeking Patterns of Lordship, Justice and Worship in the Scottish Landscape, Glasgow University 2014.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Mary’s Well, Easterhouse, Glasgow, Lanarkshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 68613 65094

Archaeology & History

This old well, named after Queen Mary (one of at least three dedicated to her in Lanarkshire), was illustrated on the earliest Ordnance Survey map of the area in 1864.  Local tradition tells us that the site gained its name when the great Mary Queen of Scots visited this old healing well, amidst a period when she stayed at Provan Hall 1½ mile away.  Both she and her horse stopped and drank here for refreshment.

Site of Mary's Well
Site of Mary’s Well
Mary's Well on 1864 OS-map
Mary’s Well on 1864 OS-map

In the 19th and early 20th century, the well was converted into a pump and supplied the water to a row of cottages that used to be here.  When we visited the site yesterday, no trace of the pump, nor any spring of water could be found.  It seems that a huge pile of industrial crap has been piled on top of the well, then trees planted to give the impression that Nature has taken back the place.  The well seems to have been completely destroyed (the photo here shows the spot where the well should be, just a few yards into the young trees).  Due to this site being an important part of Scotland’s heritage, its ignorant destruction must be condemned.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks to the team – Nina Harris, Paul Hornby and Frank Mercer – for their work here. And to Dan Holdsworth and John Bestow for their additional input.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian