The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Holy Well

Sacred Well


There are at least nine wells at different parts of the Edge, the more conspicuous being the Wizard Well and the Holy Well. These, and especially the latter, were in ancient times connected with well-worship, and propitiatory offerings were made by people to the presiding deities, and also were frequently resorted to in Christian times, but doubtless the cult was observed here in much earlier days.

Their healing powers were considered to be unfailing; the barren, the blind, the lame, and bodily-afflicted constantly made their way thither; maidens whispered their vows and prayers over them, their lovers and their future lives being their theme. Crooked silver coins were dropped into the well, but these have been cleared out long ago.

At the present time the devotees are satisfied, in their economical habit, to offer mere pins and hairpins; the custom is not dead yet, for some of the immersed pins are still quite uncorroded and bright. Some of the sex deposit the pins in their straight and original form, others bend them only at right angle, and as many again seem to consider the charm alone to act effectively when carefully and conscientiously doubled up. Maidens of a more superficial cast just give the slightest twist to the object.

To judge from the state of corrosion, and the old-fashioned thick, globular heads, some of these pins must have been in the well for at least sixty years. We have brought three cases to show the various forms into which the visitors have tortured the pins, and classified them into groups. There are occasionally to be seen also a few white pebbles in the two wells.
From Recent archaeological discoveries at Alderley Edge by C Roeder and F S Graves, in the Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society for 1905 (v23). I seem to remember that Alan Garner said he got his pocket-money from (the Wizard's?) well when he was a child.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th April 2013ce
Edited 11th April 2013ce

Comments (3)

The excitement of an Edwardian gent classifying the ways in which pins are bent. No wonder they invented TV. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
11th April 2013ce
Oh that's right, so we could watch endless house-buying programmes, football and episodes of eastenders. I'd rather have the pins. They're in three cases you know. I think he might have some more at home. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th April 2013ce
Ha ha! Fair point (no pun intended). thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
12th April 2013ce
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