. . . Magic, Holy and Medicine
seems certain that wells, springs and pools were accredited with
healing powers long before the Christian era. The
custom of visiting holy wells on the days of the
saints who had blessed
them can be traced back to a pagan water-cult of much more ancient
is a country of many waters, and thus there is no shortage of
wells and springs. There were over six hundred holy wells dotted
over this country at one time, and no doubt the Tay region had
its fair share, though many have now fallen into oblivion.
these magic or holy wells were originally the shrines of local
deities. A spring of water bubbling out from some secret crevice
of the rocks or from some obscure pocket of the soil meant life,
and where there was life there was a spirit. But in due course
these wells were Christianised. There are tales of St. Columba
and other saints blessing wells of evil repute, and driving the
evil demons from them.
Well ( Dunkeld ) St. Fillans Well (Loch Earn), St. Johns
Well (Marykirk, in the Mearns) and St. Trodlins Well (Rescobie,
Angus) are examples of holy and healing wells, much
visited on certain days of the year. Sometimes a holy fair
was held in the vicinity of such wells, and no doubt in the revelry
that accompanied these pilgrimages many relics of paganism survived.
are several Nine Maidens Wells. The one in the
park at Glamis Castle serves as a memorial to nine saintly ladies
the 8th century, whose missionary labours, conducted from Abernethy,
earned them a place among our earthly saints. But the tradition
attached to another such well, near Dundee, tells of a farmers
nine daughters failing to return, when sent one after another
to fetch water. Seeking the cause, the farmer and a prospective
son-in-law discovered two great serpents lurking by the well.
Valiantly they drove the monsters away, and finally dispatched
them at Balluderon.
of silver coins and pieces of cloth were often left in or alongside
wells as a thanks offering. This is still done to some extent,
and like the practice of throwing coins into the River Tay for
luck, is certainly a pagan and superstitious custom.
should also mention the practice of making a bargain over running
water. In a way it is calling the water as a witness.
Lovers plighting their troth stood on opposite banks, dipped their
fingers in the burn, clasped hands and exchanged vows. Thus Robert
Burns plighted his troth with Highland Mary, and many other lovers
have done the same thing since. In Angus, however, young folks
were often more sparing with the waterthey simply licked
their thumbs and pressed them together. Theres my
vow, Ill neer beguile thee.
too, spit in their loofs before shaking hands over a bargain.
Dookin for apples at Halloween was in origin
a Druidical rite associated with water. Water was used as a witness
in witch trials at such places as the Witches Pool, St.
Andrews, and at a similarly named pool at Lunan.
the most sacred of all water was the dew of the morning, and the
lasses of Tayside and round about still rise very early on the
first of May to wash their faces in the May dew, thus linking
themselves with other maidens of the long-distant past.
1. Queens Well-Glenmark, Lochlee Parish.
2. Monks Pool-near church ruins, Kit kton, Lochlee.
3. Scots Well-near Stripe of Droustie, Lochlee.
4. Meg Blairs Well- ditto.
5. Drousties (St. Drostans) Well,near Invermark Castle,
6. Nettle Well-Nettlewell Hillock, south of Cornescorn, Edzell
7. Mary Well-south of Meikle TulIc, Edzell.
8. St. Drostans Well-site of, west of Mid-Mains of Balfour,
9. McComies Well and Chair-south of Creagan Caise, Glenisla.
10. Holy Well-near chapel ruins (1693) Balnaboth, Cortachy.
11. Bells Witter, Clach of Glentaire, Cortachy and Clova.
12. Well, near Priests Stone, Newbigging, Lethnot and Navar.
13. St. Marys Well, near church, Bridgend, Lethnot and Navar.
14. Well-Caterthun Fort, Gallows Wood, Lethnot and Navar.
15. Well and Baths-Edzell Castle ruins, Edzell.
16. Lady Well. site of, Chapelton, Menmuir.
17. Bra Well, near church, Stracathro.
18. Golan Well, and Well, near chapel-site and Auchenchapel, Glenisla.
19. St. Andrews Well, south of Londrum Earn Scar, Lintrathen.
20. The Docken Well, Scad Cairns, Catlaw border of Lintrathen
21. Whey Wells, north of Leytack, east of Eastside wood, Pinderachy,
22. St. Aidans Well, Kirkton of Menmuir.
23. Jenkins Well, Balrownie Wood, Menmuir.
24. St. Vivians Well, near Vane Castle, Fern.
25. College Well, St. Michaels Mount, Brechin.
26. St. Martins Well, St. Martins Den, Logie.
27,28. Wells in wood, Dovecot, Kirkside, St. Cyrus.
29. Well of Bowbale, Hill of Fernyhurst, Glenisla.
30. Duckladge Well, Black Hill, Lintrathen.
31. Abernathan Well, near Castlehill Wood, Kirriemuir.
32. Cattle Well, Lochmill, Kirriemuir.
33. Witch Pool, Meikle Mills, Kirriemuir.
34. St. Columbas Well, Shielhill, Kirriemuir.
35. St. Marys Well, Gallow Path, near site of chapel, Rescobie.
36. Chapel Well, north-east of Whitemire, Aberlemno.
37. Well-Vitrified Fort, Hill of Finavon, Oathlaw.
38. Nine Wells, Hill of Finavon, Oathlaw.
39. Hen Well, north-west of Whinnydrum, Aberlemno.
40. St. Murdochs Well, near West Drums, Brechin.
41. Pater Well, near Burial Ground, Deerpark Cottage, Kinnaird.
42. Rosamonds Pond, near Kinnaird Castle.
43. Battle Well, Battle Drum, Montreathmont Moor, Brechin.
44. Lady Well, near Rosehill, Lunan Den, Brechin.
45. Well, near Fort, Barry Hill, Alyth.
46. St. Ninians Well, north-east of Powderwalls, Alyth.
47. Dovecot Well, near Balloch, Alyth.
48. St. Maddens Well, site of Cleikheim, near Kirkton of
49. Hassock Well, west of North Whitehills, Forfar.
Lunan Well, near Restenneth, Lunanhead, Forfar.
51. St. Fergus Well, also remains of church, north of Woodfaulds,
52. Maids Well, Drumhead Plantation, Rescobe.
53. Purdies Well, east of Ouchterlony, Rescobie.
54. Cardinals Well, quarry, Hillend, Dunnichen.
55. Paterlochwell, near Cottarward, Dunnichen.
56. Camperdown Well (formerly St. Causnans)-near site of
St. Causnans Chapel, Dunnichen.
57. Mays Well, south of Dunnichen Moss.
58. Tothel or Lothel Well-West Mill, Dunnichen.
59. Hoggs Well, west of Fairies Knowe, Dunnichen.
60. Medicine Well, near Idvles Sawmill, Dunnichen.
61. Kings Well, Dumbarrow Hill, Dunnichen.
62. Nine Wells, East of Peallock Quarry, Lunan.
63. Lady Well, Netherton, Alyth.
64. St. Anthonys Well, south of Henderstone Wood, Auchterhouse.
65. Iron Harrow Well, Hayston Hill, Tealing.
66. Knellock Well, Gallow Hill, Sidlaws, Inverarity.
67. Seggie Well, west of Guynd, Carmyllie.
68. Kings Well, east of Fallaws, Carmyllie.
69. Golly Well-Milton of Carmyllie.
70. St. Johns Well, east of the Temple, Roman Camp, Guynd.
71. Helly Well, east of Shelterfield, Arbirlot.
72. Gods Well, south-west of Swirlburn, Arbirlot.
73. St. Ringans Well, alongside Rottenraw Burn and field
named the College, Arbirlot.
74. Well, ruins of St. Vigeans Chapel, Arbirlot.
75. Mary Well, Marywell Village, St. Vigeans.
76. Silver Well, Silverwells, St. Vigeans.
77. Nickies Well, Witchwood, Arbroath and St. Vigeans.
78. Lanuner Well, south-west of Newton Hill, Arbroath and St.
79. Cartyheugh Well, Kelly Den, Arbroath and St. Vigeans
80. Monks Well, Kelly Den, Arbroath and St. Vigeans.
81. Dripping Well, beside rock-arch called the Castle Gate, Arbroath
82. St. Ninians Well, site of chapel, Whiting Ness, Arbroath.
83. Bower Well, in wood, Brunty Sawmill, Blairgowrie.
84. Camp Well, site of Roman Camp, Campmuir, Kettins.
85. Horse Well, Smithton, Smithton Hill, Lundie.
86. Craig Well - ditto.
87. Scotston Well, Little Scotston, north of Kirkton of Auchterhouse.
88. Nine Maidens Well, site of Bracken Bruach, south of Kirkton
89. St. Andrews Well, East Hillhead, north of Kirkton of
90. Peters Cauldron, Guildy Den, Panbride.
91. Mattys Well - ditto.
92. Dundas Well, site of Boath Chapel, Pitlivie Moor Planta tion,
93. Peatmire Well, Black Wood, Arbirlot.
94. Batties Well, north of Haughhead, Arbirlot.
95. St. Kanes Well, site of Ardestie Castle, Monifieth.
96. Nine Maidens Well, Castle Park, Glamis.
99. The Tottler, Milton of Conon, Carmyllie.
100. St. Sinavey - localIy known as Sunny Vie, Den o Mains,