Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Wells of Strathearn - magical , mystical , Holy and ordinary !


Some of the many wells of Strathearn

 
This Edwardian lass with the hat about to sample the waters of The Jesus Well Crieff 
 
 
 
 
 Jesus Well Crieff as it is  now
 




During my researches into the history of the Strath over  a number of decades , I was somewhat surprised to discover the incredible  number of wells we have . Many are  listed on current Ordnance Survey sheets  but  many seem to have disappeared  from human ken . The  majority seem to have strong religious connotations with  many being named  after  a saint of the old Celtic faith or indeed are pre Reformation Catholic . It is intriguing to discover  what particular  attributes these holy wells  had and indeed  what made them so important in  by gone years  . As you will note from the listing below , they offered a wide range of miraculous  cures covering whooping cough to urinary problems  or gout to madness .

What is  clear is that the holy wells  were  an anathema to the Established Presbyterian Kirk ! Their proximity to many small churches such as Strageath or Struthill was a major source of concern.  It was, in their estimation, a means of keeping alive what they regarded as the superstitious practices of the past . Consequently many were destroyed and filled in to prevent future problems . It is  clear however that their influence lived on  and  as late as the end of the 18th century , the First Statistical Accounts  of the Strathearn Parishes recounted  numerous  tales of  persons  travelling  long distances  to sample their waters . Particularly interesting as these accounts were by and large  written by the incumbent Presbyterian minister !

Below  are just some of the wells scattered across the Strath .

Jesus Well : Probably Victorian and located on the lower west slope of the Knock not far from the Hydro Golf Centre . The text on the well advising  the spiritual benefits of  quaffing the waters  is  somewhat negated  by the more recent environmental health warning . ( see above )

Copes Well : East of Crieff off A85 on Crieff Golf Course near a standing stone which is a remnant of a stone circle . Sir John Cope camped his Hanoverian troops her during the ’45 Uprising

St Serf’s Well : In the grounds of Ochtertyre . This was written in 1822 about it : St Serf’s well and the moor wheron St Serf’s market is held . He was the tutelary saint of the parish of Monivaird . This well is a plentiful spring of water . About sixty years ago our people were wont on Lammas day to go and drink it leaving white stones , spoons or rags which they brought with them ; but nothing except the white stones now appear , this superstitious practice being quite in oblivion . It has been useful in a strangury ( urinary problem ) , as any other very cold water would be ; for a patient taking a tub full of it immediately from the well , plunging his arms into it , which were bare to the elbows ,was cured .St Serf’s fair is still kept on the 11th of July where Highland horses , linen cloth , &c. both from the south and north were sold .

St Rowans or St Ronan’s Well : ( NN 818 214 ) A natural spring near Strowan House

St Mungo’s Well : at Gleneagles ( NN 937 072 ) on A832 some 2 miles south of the cross roads opposite old Toll House.
Lix Well : at north end of Glen Ogle

St MaKessog’s Well: ( NN 955 136 ) Auchterarder – north of the town between A9 and B8062 . Near ruins of St MaKessog’s pre Reformation Church The masonry of the well was removed about 1890 and the water piped to a nearby farm .

St Conwall’s Well : At the back of Huntingtower. A spring beside the ruined chapel near the mill lade was much frequented in post Reformation times On May 4th in 1618 , 16 women were brought in front of the Kirk Session in Perth for superstitious practices . On visiting the well they deposited pins and head laces .

Muthill Wells :

Arn Well : Near Balloch ( NN 841 191 )

Strageath : ( NN 883 186 ) St Patrick’s Well

where the inhabitants till lately venerated St Patrick’s memory so highly, “that on his day neither the clap of the mill was not heard nor the plough seen to move in the furrow “

Struthill ¨( NN 855 155 ) For healing the mentally ill .

The water of the well at Struthill possessed still more wonderful medicinal power. It healed the diseased mind The quote from the Statistical Account stated “ The credulous sought much after it, as its virtues were considered effectual in curing madness.

The pre reformation chapel at Struthill next to the well was demolished by order of the Presbytery of Auchterarder in 1650 to dissuade people from visiting it

Straid ( NN 785 178 ) For curing whooping cough

The water of the well at Straid was effectual for curing the whooping – cough, if duly administered; and on this important the Statistical account informs us: “the water must be drunk before the sun rises or immediately after it sets and that out of a quick cows horn or a horn taken from a live cow, which indispensable horn is in the keeping of an old woman who lives near by the well
 
Blairinroar : ( NN 792 182 ) St Patricks Well

Titus Well : On B877 near Braco

St Fillans Well : ( NN 706 233 ) Near Dundurn at St Fillans . Famed for curing barren women Also for curing rheumatism Sit in St Fillans chair on top of hill Then lie back and be pulled down the hill by your legs . For sore or infected eyes – wash them three times in the Saint’s basin at the foot of the hill .
Exert from 1880 “Historical Scenes of Perthshire “ )

In Pre Reformation times the Parish was well supplied with chapels. There was one a Strageath; another Struthill; and a third in the Blairinroar district; where the inhabitants till lately venerated St Patrick’s memory so highly, “that on his day neither the clap of the mill was not heard nor the plough seen to move in the furrow “The Parish has also some wells famous for their healing virtues. The water of the well at Straid was effectual for curing the hoping – cough, if duly administered; and on this important the Statistical account informs us: “the water must be drunk before the sun rises or immediately after it sets and that out of a quick cows horn or a horn taken from a live cow, which indispensable horn is in the keeping of an old woman who lives near by the well “. The water of the well at Struthill possessed still more wonderful medicinal power. It healed the diseased mind The quote from the Statistical Account stated “ The credulous sought much after it, as its virtues were considered effectual in curing madness. Doubtless its celebrity was altogether owing to the artifices of the avaricious religionists, who it would appear, practised on the superstition of frequent visitors to call forth their liberality in the shape of offerings cast into the well. That this account is more than conjecture appears from the fact that the Popish Chapel which stood near the well was ordered by the Presbytery of Auchterarder , Anno 1650 , to be demolished , on account of the superstitions which were practised within it But even his was not effectual to do away with the celebrity of the well , or rather , we may say , was not effectual to lessen the avarice of those who kept it ; for in 1668 several persons testified before the Presbytery of Stirling that having carried a woman thither , “ they had staid two nights at a house hard by the well ; that the first night they did bind her twice to a stone at the well , but she came into the e house to them , being loosened without any help .The second night they bound her over again to the same stone and she returned loose . And they declare also that she was very mad before they took her to the well but since that time she is working and sober in her wits “ This well was still celebrated and votive offerings were cast into it , in the year 1723 , but such delusions have now happily past away “










 

1 comment:

  1. Colin, have you unearthed much on the "Jeely Well" close to Fowlis Wester?

    ReplyDelete