I suppose I have known of the existence of sacred wells, holy wells, healing wells or however they may be described for many years. In the past I have lived in Northumberland. Firstly close to Hadrian’s Wall, where I would often walk up to Carrawburgh Roman Fort, the site of Coventina’s Well, a well resorted to throughout the Roman occupation, where finds of coins and other tributes showed the spiritual importance of the well, dedicated to Coventina, the Romano-British godess of wells and springs. Later we lived in a village nearer to Hexham, which has its own well, St Mary’s Well, still flowing in a field beside the church. We would walk past it several times a week, knowing its location but little about its history.
However, it wasn’t until following a day out in 2009, which took in St Winefride’s Well at Holywell and Sara’s Well near Derwen, that I actually realised that such a vast number of these wells once existed; some still active, others lost in all but old history books. This effectively began an interest in tracking down as many of these wells in the local area as I could.
The name Well Hopper I think demonstrates the purpose, and lack of purpose, of the blog. I do tend to hop around the wells of North Wales, from Bangor to Wrexham and back again with little semblence of sense or reason. I wouldn’t like to be accused of cherry picking though, of course we visit the picturesque and the notable, but we don’t ignore those wells that are little more than mud pools or nothing more than dots on old maps. We try to cover the whole spectrum and record what is there. In this our intention is to provide a pictorial and descriptive record of the Holy Wells across North Wales. Although I have always had an interest in local history and folklore, I am not a historian. The histories and importance of these wells have been researched and discussed by many people with a lot more time and skill than I have, so I shan’t write up scholarly research in any depth. What I would like to do is present an overview of each well, to document what is there today and to give information on how to find it.
Where possible, links will be given to sites and publications which cover the history of the well in greater depth where appropriate.
The entry for each well may be considered as a work in progress, I will edit them as I find more information, thus at the top of the main page I list those which have recently been added or changed.
Feedback is very important. I can research these wells through published documents, but so mauch of the folklore is known and remembered only by people who have been brought up close to the wells, or have family stories going back across the generations. Most importantly my research, whilst done with the best intentions, clearly can be fallible. I would love it if this website could become a place where people can share memories of these sites, and contribute to keeping stories, which otherwise are being quickly forgotten, alive. Comments which may be signed or anonymous, can be left at the end of each entry, or I can be contacted directly through a message on the contact page. I endeavour to respond to all replys as soon as possible.
All photographs used were taken for the blog unless otherwise credited.