Trumpeter’s Well, Strathaven, Lanarkshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 66014 41685

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 203472

Getting Here

Trumpeters Well on 1864 map

Take the A71 road southwest out of Strathaven as if you’re heading to Kilmarnock.  After 2½ miles (4.1km) you reach the tiny hamlet of Caldermill (be careful or you’ll truly miss it!).  As you go out of the hamlet, on your left there’s a track up to Hillhead Farm with the small but tell-tale signpost saying ‘Trumpeter’s Well’ and the small dome-shaped stone monument in the field is what yer looking for.  If you’re coming from the Kilmarnock side, when you reach the Caldermill sign, it’s in the field immediately to your right.  Y’ can’t really miss it.

Archaeology & History

When the site was surveyed by the Ordnance Survey lads in the 1850s, the water supply had completely run dry.  It was later revived and the nine-foot tall circular stone building built to commemorate its history.  The water apparently now runs within the building, being supplied from Hillhead Farm.

Trumpeters Well, Caldermill

Folklore

The well is said to have gained its name after the local Battle of Drumclog (1679), when one rich Tory known as John Graham of Claverhouse was retreating for fear of his life; and because his own horse had been killed, the coward stole the horse of his young fourteen-year-old trumpeter.  In doing so, the young lad was subsequently killed and his body was thrown down the well.  Tradition also tells that other soldiers were buried in the same field.

References:

  1. Campbell, J. Ramsey, My Ain, My Native Tour – Stra’ven, J.M. Bryson: Strathaven 1943.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.650165, -4.130798 Trumpeter\'s Well

St. Bride’s Well, Avondale, Lanarkshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 6983 4138

Archaeology & History

St Brides Chapel & Well on the 1864 OS-map

Shown on the 1864 OS map of the area as a ‘Well’ just at the front of St Bride’s Chapel—now a very pleasant old cottage—peasants and pilgrims would stop for both refreshment and ritual here as they walked down High Kype Road.  Although the chapel was described in church records of January 1542 as being on the lands of Little Kype, close to the settlement of St Bride, there seems to be very little known about the history or traditions of the well.  If anyone has further information on this site, please let us know.

Folklore

Bride or Brigit has her origins in early British myth and legend, primarily from Scotland and Ireland.  Her saint’s day is February 1, or the heathen Imbolc (also known as Candlemas).  Although in christian lore St. Bride was born around 450 AD in Ireland and her father a Prince of Ulster, legend tells that her step-father (more probably a teacher) was a druid and her ‘saintly’ abilities as they were later described are simply attributes from this shamanic pantheon. Legends—christian and otherwise—describe Her as the friend of animals; possessor of a magickal cloak; a magickian and a healer; and whose ‘spirit’ or genius loci became attached to ‘sacred sites’ in the natural world, not the christian renunciation of it.  St Bride was one of the primal faces of the great prima Mater known as the Cailleach: the greater Gaelic deity of Earth’s natural cycles, whose changing seasons would also alter Her names, faces and clothes, as Her body moved annually through the rhythms of the year.  Bride was (and is) ostensibly an ecological deity, with humans intrinsically a part of such a model, not a part from it, in contrast to the flawed judaeo-christian theology.

References:

  1. Paul, J.B. & Thomson, J.M., Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum: The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland AD 1513 – 1546, HMGRH: Edinburgh 1883.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.648467, -4.070063 St Bride\'s Well

Glesart Stanes, Glassford, Lanarkshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NS 73609 46916

Also Known as:

  1. Avonholm
  2. Canmore ID 45595
  3. Glesart Stones
  4. Struthers Burial Ground
  5. Three Stones

Getting Here

Glesart Stones on 1864 map

From the roundabout in Glassford village, head west down Jackson Street along the country lane of Hunterlees Road.  About 600 yards on, turn right at the small crossroads (passing the cemetery on yer left) for about half-a-mile, before turning left along a small track that head to some trees 400 yards along.  Once you’ve reached the trees, walk uphill and follow the footpath to the right, keeping to the tree-line.  It eventually runs to a small private graveyard. You’re there!

Archaeology & History

Glesart Stones,
looking west

In the little-known private graveyard of the Struthers family on the crest of the ridge overlooking the River Avon and gazing across landscape stretching for miles into the distance, nearly a mile east of Glassford village, several hundred yards away from the Commonwealth graveyard, a cluster of yew trees hides, not only the 19th century tombstones, but remnants of some thing much more archaic.  Three small standing stones, between 2½ and 4 feet in height, hide unseen under cover of the yews, at the end of a much overgrown ancient trackway which terminates at the site.  They’re odd, inasmuch as they don’t seem to be in their original position.  Yet some form of archaic veracity seems confirmed by the weathered fluting: eroded lines stretching down the faces of two of the taller stones and, more importantly, what seem to be cup-markings on each of the monoliths.

Cup-mark atop of east stone

Easternmost stone

The tallest stone at the eastern end of the graveyard has a deep cup on its crown.  This may be the result of weathering; but we must exercise caution with our scepticism here.  Certainly the eroded lines that run down this stone are due to weathering – and many centuries of it; but the peculiarity is that the weathering occurs only on one side.  This implies that only one side of the stone was open to the elements.

Central cup-marked stone

‘X’ carved atop of central stone

The second, central stone of the three, is slightly smaller than the first.  Unlike the eastern stone, its crown has been snapped off at some time in the past century or so, as evidenced in the flat smooth top.  But along the top are a series of small incised marks, one of which includes a notable ‘X’, which may have been surrounded by a circle.  A second fainter ‘X’ can be seen to its side, and small metal-cut lines are at each side of these figures.  Another small section of this stone on its southern edge has also been snapped off at some time in the past.  The most notable element on this monolith is the reasonably large cup-mark on its central west-face.  It is distinctly eroded, measuring 2-3 inches across and an inch or more deep.  Its nature and form is just like the one in the middle of the tallest of the standing stones at Tuilyies, nearly 31 miles to the northeast.

Western smallest stone

The Three Stones

The smallest of the three stones is just a few feet away from the central stone.  To me, it seemed oddly-placed (not sure why) and had seen the attention of a fire at its base not too long ago.  On its vertical face near the top-centre of the stone, another cup-marking seems in evidence, some 2 inches across and half-an-inch deep—but this may be natural.  The Glasgow archaeologist Kenneth Brophy reported that on a recent visit, computer photogrammetry was undertaken here, so we’ll hopefully see what they found soon enough.

There is some degree of caution amongst some archaeologists regarding the prehistoric authenticity of the Glesart Stanes – and not without good cause.  Yet despite this, the seeming cup-marks and, particularly, the positioning of the stones in the landscape suggest something ancient this way stood.  The stones here are more likely to be the remains of a once-larger monument: perhaps a cairn; perhaps a ring of stones; or perhaps even an early christian site.  At the bottom of the hill for example, just 350 yards below, is a large curve in the River Avon on the other side of which we find the remains of an early church dedicated to that heathen figure of St. Ninian (his holy well close by); and 300 yards north is the wooded Priest’s Burn, whose history and folklore seem lost.

The Glesart Stanes were the subject of an extended article by M.T. M’Whirter in the Hamilton Advertiser in 1929 (for which I must thank Ewan Allinson for putting it on-line).  He wrote:

“Situated on the highest hill-top on the estate of Avonholm, north to the house of that name, is the private burial ground of James Young Struthers… Situated within the burial ground are three upright flagstones of a dark brown colour, rough and unhewn,  Each stone is facing the east, and placed one behind the other, though not in a straight line, and the space between the eastern and the middle stone is eight feet, and the space between the middle and the western stone is seven feet.  The stone flags vary in measurement, the eastern stone being the greater, standing four feet three inches high, three feet eight inches broad, and one foot thick.  The middle stone is three feet high, three feet ten inches broad, and nine inches thick; and the western stone is three feet high, four feet broad and ten inches thick.  The two outer stones bear no letters, figures or marks, but the centre stone has rudely sculptured on the top-edge the Roman numerals IX, and on the western side of the stone there is a cup-shaped indentation about two inches in diameter.  A groove 26 inches in length extends from the top of the stone to below the level of the cup indentation.  The groove is deeper at the top, but gradually loses in depth towards the bottom end.  I have seen grooves similar to above by the friction of a wire rope passing over a rocky surface.  The numerals, cup indentation and groove do not appear to be part of the original placing of the stones and, if a cromlech, then in the centuries that have gone, the stones becoming exposed to view by the removal of the mound, would invariably have led to a search for stone coffins or urns, yet no discovery of either has ever been recorded.”

Indeed, Mr M’Whirter was sceptical of them being part of a prehistoric burial site, preferring instead to think that a megalithic ring once stood here.  He continued:

“From an examination of the three stones, I am convinced that they form a segment of a circle, and assuming that nine additional stones complete the circle, it would enclose a space of roughly one hundred feet in circumference, with each stone facing an easterly direction.”

But we might never know for certain…. The only other literary source I have come across which describes the site is that by the local vicar, William Stewart (1988), who told us that:

“The stones stand erect, six feet apart, three rough slabs of coarse-grained sandstone, three feet high, three feet broad and six inches thick, free of any chisel marks.  Two have their back to the east, the third, oblique to the others, has its back to the south-east, thus there is no suggestion of a stone circle.  There are vertical grooves on two of the stones, while the centre stone has a cupmark, below which is a faint circle, one foot in diameter.  They stand at the end of a long narrow strip of land with low earthen walls on either side, perhaps an old agricultural field division, and they gave their name ‘Three Stanes’, to a now partly-lost road which eventually reached The Craggs and ended as Threestanes Road in Strathaven…”

The Three Stones

The “faint circle” described by Mr Stewart is barely visible now.  And the idea that these “three stones” gave their name to the farmhouse and road of the same name at the other side of Strathaven, three miles west, seems to be stretching credulity to the limits.  Surely?

Folklore

In 1845, Gavin Laing in the New Statistical Account for Lanarkshire told that:

“These stones are known simply as the “Three Stones”. There is a tradition in the neighbourhood that three Lords were buried here, after being killed while looking on at a Battle. The stones are about 3½ feet high and about as thick as flag stones. They stand upright being firmly fixed in the ground.”

The stones and their traditional origin were also mentioned in Francis Groome’s Ordnance Gazetteer (1884), where he echoed the 1845 NSA account, but also added:

“Three tall upright stones are here, and have been variously regarded as Caledonian remains, as monuments of ancient noblemen, and as monuments of martyrs.”

Then at the end of the 1850s, when the Ordnance Survey lads came here, they reported,

“Three high stones stand upright on a small eminence upon the lands of Avonholm, respecting their origin there are various opinions. They are probably the remnants of Druidical superstition.”

References:

  1. Groome, Francis H., Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland – volume 1, Thomas C. Jack: Edinburgh 1884.
  2. M’Whirter, M.T., “The Standing Stones at Glassford,” in Hamilton Advertiser, 1929.
  3. Stewart, William T., Glasford – The Kirk and the Kingdom, Mainsprint: Hamilton 1988.
  4. Wilson, James Alexander, A Contribution to the History of Lanarkshire – volume 2, J. Wylie: Glasgow 1937.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.699160, -4.012596 Glesart Stanes

Three Stanes, Strathaven, Lanarkshire

Standing Stones (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 6957 4524

Archaeology & History

Threestanes on the 1864 OS-map

Threestanes on the 1864 OS-map

It seems that nothing remains of the three standing stones that gave rise to the place-name of Threestane Farm, at the top of Threestane Lane, on the northwestern outskirts of Strathaven.  We have no details on the size and form of the stones, nor when they were destroyed, but can presume that it was sometime prior to the Ordnance Survey lads coming here in 1858.

One local antiquarian, Maggie Overett, told that, “Slightly to the north east of Threestanes farm and near to the A726 Strathaven to East Kilbride road used to stand a farm called Westfield(still currently shown on my Google Earth) it was demolished over a year ago. Just behind what was the farm is a slight incline with what appears to be a standing stone. I have not been able to gain access to the site because of barriers put up by whoever owns the plot…… But it’s close enough to tie in the Threestanes estate…….and only a short distance from the known Strathaven Stane.”

Any further information about these lost monoliths would be greatly appreciated.

References:

  1. Bryson, J.M., Handbook to Strathaven and Vicinity, Townehead: Strathaven n.d.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.682973, -4.076148 Three Stanes

St. Anne’s Well, Strathaven, Lanarkshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NS 7039 4438

Archaeology & History

St Anne's Well on 1865 map

St Anne’s Well on 1865 map

Long since lost it would seem, in a search for this legendary site over the weekend with Gordon, Aisha and Lara, I’m still not certain of the actual status of the site.  Although we found a very fresh water supply still running not far from where the old OS-map showed the original holy well to be, it may be a completely different water source.

There are hardly any references to the spring and those that exist are scant.  In the early 1860s, St. Ane’s Well was mentioned briefly in the Object Name Book of the area:

“This is a good spring well in the southern part of the town of Strathaven.  It is commonly called Tun’s (Tan’s?) Well, but this is an abbreviation of the name.”

Lara plays at a nearby well

Lara plays at a nearby well

Looking down on the waters

Looking down on the waters

More recently, thanks to a communication from the local historian Robert Currie, more information has come to light about the well.  It was described in the local history work by Mary Gebbie (1880).  Mr Currie told me:

“In her Sketches of Avondale and Strathaven…we read: “In a lane off Tod’s Hill was the famous Tann’s Well – obviously a corruption of the celebrated water saint, St. Anne. This spring has within a few years completely dried up. Access was easily had from the castle to it, over the draw-bridge, which is said to have rested on the ledge of the ground and rock on which the fifth house is built south of the bridge. Before this aperture was built up, the inhabitants around took advantage of the pathway for drawing water from the Pomillion, at a place called the Fairy Pool. A little above this comes the Dove Castle; and a half a mile further out is the Gallow Hill.”

He continued:

“That said, the current siting of St. Anne’s Well is located on Lesmahagow Road with (the) site being almost opposite the Council houses bordering on Station Road (there is currently a mini-roundabout near the locus). In recent years the site has become obscured but in my own living memory there was once a plaque authenticating the site and with a garden seat thereby.”

In searching through their own library, Mr Currie and his wife came across more about the site in William Downie’s (1979) book on Strathaven, in which he wrote:

“A small lane off Todshill went down to a cluster of houses called St. Anne’s Well nestling on the sloping ground beside the mill dam. In 1911 these houses were acquired and demolished by the Town Improvement Committee. A row of houses backing backing on to Powmillon Burn were also demolished at the same time and a retaining wall with railings erected, so opening up a very fine view of the castle and burn etc.”

The dedication here to the mythic figure of St. Anne (mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus) is isolated and mysterious.  No church is dedicated to her in the area, nor other relative christian remains.  Her appearance in Strathaven is something of an oddity.  There was a Duchess ‘Ann’ Hamilton of Strathaven Castle who lived 200 yards away at Strathaven Castle on the other side of the river that might have given her name to the well, but this is very unlikely.  More probable is that St. Anne was used as the mythic figure who covered an earlier dedication to the prima mater, or Cailleach—although there are no remains that relate to Her either.  However, the existence of St Mary’s church and an associated well to the north, along with a burn dedicated to a “maiden” in the same parish to the northwest add to the cailleach’s potential…..but all tales of Her have seemingly been forgotten.

…So it seems that the spring of water that Lara, Aisha, Gordon and I came across was obviously not the same place, but exists just below the roadside where the disused railway line is.  It’s close to St Anne’s Well – but is not the same water source.

References:

  1. Downie, Fleming, A History of Avondale and Strathaven, Eric Moore: Glasgow 1979.
  2. Gebbie, Mary, Sketches of the Town of Strathavon and Parish of Avondale: Historical & Traditional, John Menzies: Edinburgh 1880.

Links:

  1. Strathaven Past & Present

Acknowledgements:  Considerable thanks must be given to Robert Currie, BA Hons, who sent us additional information enabling a more informative and accurate site profile for this holy well.  Thanks Bob! Also huge thanks again to Aisha Domleo, Lara Domleo, Unabel Gordon and their frobbling Leonidus!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.675409, -4.062593 St. Anne’s Well

Shawton, Chapeltown, Lanarkshire

Standing Stone (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NS 681 490

Archaeology & History

This is another Lanarkshire monolith that’s gone, but which was described first of all in the 19th century in the Ordnance Survey place-name book for the county.  The Scottish Royal Commission (1978) lads—who tried locating the site in September, 1973—told that,

“no trace now survives of the stone, 1.4m in height (i.e., about four-and-half feet tall – Ed.), that once stood in a field beside the public road about 120m northeast of Shawton Farmhouse.”

References:

  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Lanarkshire: Prehistoric and Roman Monuments, HMSO: Edinburgh 1978.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.716809, -4.100455 Shawton stone