Market Cross, Hastings, Sussex

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TQ 828 099

Also Known as

  1. North End’s Cross

Archaeology & History

This long-lost stone cross should not be confused with the more recent one, erected by one Mr H. C. Richards in 1901 to commemorate some malarky about Edward VII.  The one in this profile was much older than that, although both of them were erected close to each other.  The older cross was found, said T.H. Cole (1884), “at the head of the Town, near All Saints’ Church.” Also known as the North End’s Cross, the old market was held here and close by were the gallows, the whipping post and the stocks.

References:

  1. Cole, Thomas H., The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield, Hastings St Leonards Phil. Society 1884.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Dragon Well, Eccleshill, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Sacred Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 17567 35473

Also Known as:

  1. Pendragon Well

Archaeology & History

Site on the 1893 map

A most curious place:  this ‘Well of the Dragon’ as it was first called (on the 1852 OS-map) and subsequently the ‘Pendragon Well’ (on the 1922 map) just off Pendragon Lane, seems to have been forgotten in both folklore and history.  I grew up round here and no legends of dragons were known, either in my life, nor that of the old folks I knew; nor any pub of that name that might account for it.

Equally unexplained is the name of the adjacent ‘Pendragon Lane’, which has been known as that for some 175 years.  We have no Arthurian myths anywhere in West Yorkshire that remains in folk memory—and certainly nothing hereby that accounts for it.

As for possible landscape associations (i.e., serpentine geological features), nothing in the vicinity has any bearing on the name.  Indeed, the only thing of any potential relevance was the former existence of a healing rock known as the Wart Stone, some 100 yards to the east at Bolton Junction.  Such stones are usually possessed of naturally-worn ‘bowls’ of some sort on top of the rock—akin to large cup-markings—into which water collected that was used to rid the sufferer of warts or similar skin afflictions.  But such an association seems very unlikely.

The only thing we can say of this Dragon Well is that probably, in times gone by, a folktale or legend existed of a dragon in the neighbourhood that had some association with the waters here.  Dragons are invariably related to early animistic creation myths, and this site may have been all that remained of such a forgotten tale.  The nearest other place in West Yorkshire with dragon associations is six miles northwest of here on the south-side of Ilkley Moor.  In Britain there are a number of other Dragon Wells, the closest of which is in South Yorkshire.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Market Cross, Aynho, Northamptonshire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SP 514 332

Archaeology & History

In John Bridges’ (1791) account of the parish of Aynho, he made mention of an old market cross that stood in the village, but even in his day it had been removed and so we know little about it.    Chris Markham (1901) included it in his inventory of crosses, but could find no additional details to those provided by Mr Bridges.  He told us:

“In the seventeenth year of Edward II (1323-4) John de Clavering was lord of the manor of Eynho, and obtained the King’s charter for a weekly mercate, or market, to be held every Tuesday, and a yearly fair on the vigil and day of St. Michael and two days following.  This market was continued until the twentieth year of James I (1622-3), when Richard Cartwright obtained a new charter for holding the market and fair, with the addition of another yearly fair on the Monday and Tuesday after Pentecost.  Bridges, however, writing about 1700, says that the market had been discontinued for some sixty years, and that the market cross had been then long since taken down. Since then the fairs have also sunk into desuetude.”

References:

  1. Bridges, John, The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire – volume 1, T. Payne: Oxford 1791.
  2. Markham, Christopher A., The Stone Crosses of the County of Northampton, Simpkin Marshall: London 1901.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St Peter’s Well (1), Leeds, West Yorkshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 2894 3382

Archaeology & History

St Peters Well on 1852 map

Not to be confused with the other St. Peter’s Well that once existed in the city centre, this site was shown on an 1815 map of Leeds (which I’ve not been able to get mi hands on!), known as the Waterloo Map.  But when the Ordnance Survey lads visited the place in 1846, it had been covered over.  Immediately west of here, the saint’s name was also given to a nearby hill, whose folklore seems has been forgotten.

Although Ralph Thoresby mentioned it in passing, Edward Parsons (1834) gave us a brief description of its qualities, telling us that,

“Near North Hall is the celebrated spring called St. Peter’s Well ; the waters are so intensely cold that they have long been considered very efficacious in rheumatic disorders.”

Bonser (1979) reiterated this in his survey, also telling that, like its nearby namesake, its waters were “intensely cold and beneficial for rheumatism, rickets, etc.”  An old bathing-house that was “annexed to the Well” may have been used specifically to treat such ailments, but we cannot say for sure.

Interestingly, Andrea Smith (1982) told that 400 metres away a well was sunk in 1838 and a quantity of petrified hazelnuts were recovered from a broken red jar which had a female head painted on it.  Such a deposit is not too unusual, as a number of sacred wells in bygone days were blessed with nuts and signified the deity Callirius, known by the Romans as Silvanus, the God of the Hazel Wood – though we have no direct tradition here linking St. Peter’s Well with this ritual deposit.

St. Peter’s festival date was June 29.

References:

  1. Bonser, K.J., “Spas, Wells and Springs of Leeds,” in The Thoresby Miscellany – volume 54, Leeds 1979.
  2. Hope, Robert Charles, Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, Elliott Stock: London 1893.
  3. Parsons, Edward, The Civil, Ecclesiastical, Literary, Commercial and Miscellaneous History of Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Wakefield, Dewsbury, Otley – volume 1, Frederick Hobson: Leeds 1834.
  4. Smith, Andrea, ‘Holy Wells Around Leeds, Bradford & Pontefract,’ in Wakefield Historical Journal 9, 1982.
  5. Thoresby, Ralph, Ducatus Leodiensis, Maurice Atkins: London 1715.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Gerchew Well, Balfron, Stirlingshire

Healing Well (lost):  OS Rid Reference – NS 579 884

Archaeology & History

One-and-a-half miles east of Balfron, this curiously-named well could once be seen – and indeed may still be there.  Mentioned just once in D.S. Buchanan’s (1903) Guide as a well-known place, I’ve been unable to locate it and can find no other accounts of the place. He wrote:

“A little beyond Dailfoil there is a road to the right, down which, about 200 yards, there is a stile over the fence, only a few feet from the famous Gerchew Well, on the banks of the Endrick.  Here the visitor can repose for a time under the shade of the trees, and quench his thirst in its pure, cool, and bubbling waters.”

His directions seem to indicate it as being just off the small road that runs to the ruins of Easter Gerchew, but there is nothing of note hereby.  A half-mile away was Wester Gerchew house, which seems contrary to his directions —and there’s nothing in evidence there either.  And so I enter it here in the hope that someone might be able to relocate this healing well. (the grid reference is an approximation based on Buchanan’s description)

References:

  1. Buchanan, D.S., Buchanan’s Popular Illustrated Guide to Strathendrick, Aberfoyle and District, J. & C. Buchanan: Balfron 1903.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St. Pancras’ Well, Scampton, Lincolnshire

Holy Well (destroyed):  OS Grid reference – SK 9542 7853

Archaeology & History

Site shown on 1886 map

Mentioned in Thompson’s (1999) survey but without comment, it was, curiously, Skyring Walters’ (1928) that drew my attention to this site.  He added it to his list of St Pancras sites, telling how even in his day, it had fallen into memory.  Indeed, it had already gone when the Ordnance Survey lads came here in 1885.  Thankfully we were left with an albeit piecemeal account of the place by Cayley Illingworth (1810) before its destruction. It was an iron-bearing well that existed some fifty yards from an ancient Roman villa and was probably the water supply for the Romans who lived here.  He told us:

“The circumstance…of the chalybeate spring within a few yards from the entrance of the villa, and still called Saint Pancras Well…favours the conclusion of a chapel having been erected on its site.  (This) is supported by the strong evidence of a discovery, upon record, that a chapel dedicated to Saint Pancras did actually exist on this spot, so early as the beginning of the twelfth century; about which period Richard Fitz-Robert of Scampton gave to the monastery of Kirksted three selions of land in that lordship, two of which are described in the gift as lying in the south field, on the south side of the chapel of Saint Pancras.”

He further told that at the bottom of the well an oak floor had been laid, which had been dug up “several years ago.”

St Pancras’s festival date is April 3.

References:

  1. Cameron, Kenneth & Insley, John, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire – volume 7, English Place-Name Society: Nottingham 2010.
  2. Harte, Jeremy, English Holy Wells: A Sourcebook – volume 2, Heart of Albion Press: Loughborough 2008.
  3. Illingworth, Cayley, A Topographical Account of the Parish of Scampton in the County of Lincoln, T. Cadel & W. Davies: London 1810.
  4. Thompson, Ian, Lincolnshire Springs and Well, Bluestone: Scunthorpe 1999.
  5. Walters, R.C. S., The Ancient Wells, Springs and Holy Wells of Gloucestershire, St Stephens Press: Bristol 1928.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Village Cross, Leighterton, Gloucestershire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – ST 824 910

Archaeology & History

Charles Pooley (1868) gave a somewhat vague description of this site, telling that, “there is authority for believing that at one time a Cross was set up in the village.”  I can find no other reference to this monument which, I presume, has been destroyed.  (the grid reference cited is an approximation near the centre of the village, where village crosses were usually located)

References:

  1. Pooley, Charles, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, Longmans Green: London 1868.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St Pancras’ Well, Marshfield, Gloucestershire

Holy Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – ST 766 743

Archaeology & History

In R.C. Skyring Walker’s (1928) fine survey of Gloucestershire’s holy wells, he lamented the passing of this site, telling how

“it is sad to relate that this well has totally disappeared and its precise site is unknown.”

Since those words, the situation regarding its whereabouts has not been resolved.  First mentioned in Samuel Rudder’s (1779) work, the main clue we’ve got regarding its whereabouts is his description of the adjoining hamlets and village tithes:

“Westonton, formerly called Old Marshfield, or Little Marshfield.  It has been a distinct parish, called St Pancras, according to Sir Robert Atkins, and a well in this hamlet still bears the name of that saint.”

‘Well’ on 1886 OS-map

Westonton is the old farmhouse of Westend Town less than a mile northwest of Marshfield where, on early Ordnance Survey maps, a Well is shown.  To the north of this is Springs Farm.  This latter name probably has no bearing on St Pancras’ Well; but the location cited by Rudder of the well being in Westend Town gives us a damn good indicator as to where local historians should dig for this forgotten sacred site.

The Well was described in T.D. Fosbroke’s (1807) work, but only in passing.  St Pancras’s festival date is April 3. (the grid reference cited for this well is an approximation)

References:

  1. Fosbroke, Thomas D., Abstracts of Records and Manuscripts Respecting the County of Gloucester – volume 2, J. Harris: Cirencester 1807.
  2. Rudder, Samuel, A New History of Gloucestershire, S. Rudder: Cirencester 1779.
  3. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of Gloucestershire – volume 3, Cambridge University Press 1964.
  4. Walters, R.C. S., The Ancient Wells, Springs and Holy Wells of Gloucestershire, St Stephens Press: Bristol 1928.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Slaughter’s Well, Lechlade-on Thames, Gloucestershire

Healing Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SU 215 995

Archaeology & History

Not listed in the field-name surveys of the town, the name Slaughter Well was obviously a folk-name given to it by local people.  The place was mentioned in an unpublished manuscript that Adin Williams’ (1888) managed to lay his hands on, where it was mentioned in relation to the missing pyramidal Market Cross.  Its waters were “said to be medicinal.”  The name of the well was said to derive from a battle here between Oliver Cromwell’s men and the Royalists.  At this place,

“an officer was shot, and this incident gave the name ‘Slaughter’ to the well.”

References:

  1. Williams, Adin, Lechlade: Being the History of the Town, Manor and Estates, The Priory and the Church, E.W. Savory: Cirencester 1888.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

High Cross, Elkstone, Gloucestershire

Cross (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SO 9674 1321

Archaeology & History

High Cross on 1883 map

First shown on a 1775 map of the region, this long-lost site is preserved in several place-names near the old crossroads a half-mile north of Elkstone village.  It is mentioned, albeit briefly in Charles Pooley (1868) county survey, where he told that, “in former times a very handsome and lofty High Cross stood in this parish.”  However, there’s the possibility that the name ‘High’ cross may here derive simply from a cross located at a high point in the landscape.

An old ‘Guide Post’ marked on the early Ordnance Survey map at the same spot has been suggested by Danny Sullivan—and not without good reason—to be a prehistoric standing stone.  He may be right.

References:

  1. Pooley, Charles, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, Longmans Green: London 1868.
  2. Sullivan, D.P., Old Stones of the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean, Reardon: Cheltenham 1999.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian