Holy Well (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NO 02179 34749
Also Known as:
- Beltane Well
- Canmore ID 27045
I accessed the site by parking up at Little Tullybelton, walking up the hill and crossing into the field on the left just north of the wood, then walking due west (crossing barbed wire fences) until dropping down into the valley of the Ordie Burn and following the track into the wood, then, noting where the burn crosses south of the old stone wall. The site of the well is marked by some tussocks of cotton grass. Don’t confuse with a patch of nettles and docks 2-300 hundred yards east where you enter the wood.
Archaeology & History
This well was destroyed about 170 years ago and the site of it is quite hard to find as the land has been turned over to forestry. It was near a chapel and burial ground that were also destroyed by the farmer of the time. The old wall formed part of the boundary of the detached portion or enclave of the neighbouring parish of Methven.
The Reverend Thomas Nelson, Minister of the Parish of Auchtergaven, has this to say in the New Statistical Account of 1845;
‘Superstition formerly invested St Bryde’s, and Chapel Well, and perhaps some others, with a sacred character, and made then places of resort for pious purposes.
‘On the south march of Berryhill Farm, in the same lands of Tullybeagles, there is the site of.. a chapel, where there was a burying-place, where human bones have been recently dug up; and, till of late, the people in the neighbourhood used, on the first Sabbath of May, to drink out of the Holy Well there. This sacred place is on the banks of the Ordie.’
The OS Name Book has the following entry regarding the Well:
‘The site of a Holy Well which has been traditionally associated with the adjacent chapel. The water of this well is now carried by a covered drain into the adjacent stream, and the well filled in‘.
And this regarding the Chapel:
‘The site of an ancient chapel on the north bank of the Ordie Burn, the chapel was demolished and the graveyard rooted up some years ago by the present tenant of the farm, who has pointed out the site, the dedicatory name is not known‘.
I could find no evidence of the culvert which discharges the waters of the Well into the Burn. What does seem to have been missed is the survival of part of the ancient sunken roadway or pilgrim path to the site, which is still clearly visible.
The fact that it was visited by locals on the first Sabbath in May would point to it having originally been a Beltane well, and therefore of pre-Christian origin.
- The New Statistical Account for Auchtergaven, Perthshire, 1845
- Ordnance Survey Name Books for Perthshire, 1859-6
© Paul T Hornby 2018