From Feizor village, take the dirt-track south that cuts up between the two cottages and walk onto the level. From here, the walling bends round and a small cut runs up the slope on your left. Go up here and onto the top, bearing left again when you reach the footpath near the top of the slope. Walk along here until the hills open up before you and less than 100 yards along, just on the right-hand side of the path, you’ll notice the overgrown outline of a ring just by the side. Don’t miss it (like I did!).
Archaeology & History
Danny, Paul and I visited here a few weeks back on a fine sunny day and, my attention caught by some nearby rocks that got mi nose twitching, I just about walked past the place until Danny called me back and said, “Oy – ‘ave y’ not seen this?” Right under my nose no less!
The site’s a little known circular monument east of Feizor village, less than a mile northwest of the cairnfield above Stackhouse (where lives the Apronful of Stones and other prehistoric friends). Marked on modern OS-maps as an ‘enclosure,’ the site here is in fact an overgrown cairn circle, typical in size and form of the ones found at nearby Borrins Top, Burley Moor, Askwith Moor and elsewhere in the Pennines. Measuring (from outer edge to outer edge) 66 feet 6 inches east-west and 59 feet north-south, the remains here consist of a raised embankment of stones, encircling an inner flatter region consisting of many smaller stones beneath the overgrowth of grasses and vegetation. Locals told me that the some of the cairns up here were explored early in the 20th century by a local man called Tot Lord, but I’m unsure whether he looked at this one.
There are a couple of other smaller circular remains on the same grassland plain, clearly visible from aerial imagery, along with other crop-marks of human activity on this part of the Feizor Thwaite landscape. More antiquarian analysis could do with focussing here to see what can be found!
The well is located in the grounds of Waddow Hall close by Brungerley Bridge, near Waddington, in the Ribble Valley. The hall is just off the B 6478 road about three-quarters of a mile south-east of Waddington village. It is on private land, but you can see the well by walking along a footpath at the western side of the hall running along the banks of the River Ribble at the southern side of the hall grounds.
The legend originates from the 18th century although the well is a pre-Christian spring. According to this most often told ‘legend’ Peg O’ Nell was a servant girl at Waddow Hall. However, she often fell out with her masters, the Starkie family, often quarreling with and being disobedient to them. One night, in particular, Peg had a blazing row with Mistress Starkie after saying she didn’t want to fetch water from the well; the mistress was so enraged that she shouted at the servant saying “I hope you fall and break your neck”. At a later date this came true when on a particularly icy night Peg went to fetch water from the well, but on her way there she slipped on some ice and fell into the River Ribble, at a treacherous spot, and did indeed break her neck. From that time on there seems to have been a curse on the Starkie family – anything and everything that happened at the hall was blamed on Peg, or her ghost, which was now haunting the house and grounds. Mistress Starkie became so fed up with the curse that she took an axe and chopped off the head of a statue that had earlier been placed beside the well in memory of poor Peg. Thinking that by doing this the curse would come to an end, and it seems to have done just that, because afterwards peace and quiet seems to have come upon the hall.
Another legend or tale says that Peg dwelt by the well, perhaps as a kind of sprite, but that she caused a local Puritan preacher to fall into the River Ribble. As a punishment for this dastardly trick the head of the statue was chopped off. Folklore says that a water spirit or “sprite” lived in the well which was connected underground to the nearby River Ribble.
But the truth about this seems to be that the headless statue is that of St Margaret of Antioch who was beheaded for her faith in the early centuries of Roman rule. St Margaret’s feast day was on 20th July. Apparently, her statue was brought to Waddow Hall from either Sawley Abbey or Whalley Abbey where it had stood in its own niche, or possibly it came from a local Catholic church. The headless statue appears to be holding a bible in one hand; so it was probably placed at the side of the well in order to make the well holy and sacred to pilgrims who used to visit the site for healing purposes on the saint’s day. The head of the statue used to reside in an upstairs room at the hall, but it was lost for a time, only to be re-discovered and embedded into a wall at Brungerley farm not far from the bridge.
But we may never know what really did happen here because legend and folklore have become mixed in with other tales that may, or may not, be true. The holy well stands in a meadow in the hall grounds and is a square-shaped hollow in the ground where water still flows, possibly fed by the river close by. The statue still stands at the side; and fencing now surrounds this sacred site. The hall and grounds are still said to be haunted by a ghost, but whether it is Peg’s ghost we do not know, because this particular ghost is said to be hooded ? The curse itself used to claim a victim once every seven years; the screaming spirit of Peg would rise up from the murky waters of the river on stormy nights – an animal could apparently suffice as a victim, rather than a human. This story was almost certainly made-up probably to frighten the Starkie family who it was originally aimed at.
Waddow Hall is now a Training and Activity Centre, but it used to be a Centre for girl guides and during the second world war it was an isolation hospital.