Homeward bound

ISSUE ONE (MAY 2000)

NEWS FILE

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Posted: May 1, 2000

Previously un-recorded well in north Cornwall restored

   A well at the tiny hamlet of Coxford, near Crackington Haven, in the north of Cornwall has recently been restored. The well has not been previously recorded, but it's proximity to St Tremayne Chapel may indicate its antiquity and dedication.

   A tree had caused the well-house to collapse and the site had deteriorated to such an extent that it could hardly be recognised as a well at all. Funding from a Cornwall Landscape Project Grant enabled Malcolm Ure of Capability Landscaping and local artist Jacky Allen to restore the well to some semblance of its former glory. The offending tree was cut down and the roots dug out. Silt and debris was removed from the site, and local stone and slate used to rebuild the well. Jacky Allen carved the slogan 'Rest and be Thankful' into a piece of slate on the back of a seat built alongside the well-house. Native wildflowers were planted on the bank.

[Thanks to Meyn Mamvro, 41, p.4]

 

Posted: May 1, 2000

Worked flint fragments found scattered around St Helen's Well, Barnburgh, Yorkshire

   Fieldwalking and resistivity surveys of the area around the Mediaeval St Helen's Chapel near Barnburgh in South Yorkshire have possibly posed more questions than they have answered. Resisivity surveys have shown that the chapel was once enclosed in a bank of unknown antiquity. However, fieldwalkers have found a number of pieces of Mediaeval and Roman pottery scattered around the chapel which lies next to a Roman road. Interestingly, some 34 fragments of worked flint were found scattered in the area, about half of which were in the location of the neglected St Helen's Well, the water from which was renowned for it's medicinal properties.

   The evidence points to a healing well site with a long and seemingly continuous history of activity, from prehistory through the Roman era to Mediaeval times. It would thus appear that this site held some particular significance even before the Church sanctified the area. The question is, was the water from this well considered to have healing properties before the Church Christianised the site? Or did the association appear after the church was built?

[Thanks to Northern Earth, 80, p.12]

 

Posted: May 1, 2000

Warnings that aquifers beneath Britain's major cities are contaminated with industrial effluents

   According to David Learner from the University of Sheffield 'virtually every underground well under Britain's big cities is contaminated with noxious chemicals and sewage'. This conclusion was drawn from studies of aquifers below Birmingham and Coventry which found that the majority contain   chlorinated hydrocarbons. Such chemicals are used in the dry cleaning, car manufacture and electronics industries, amongst others, and are not only toxic but highly persistent in the environment, often taking many decades to diminish naturally. Professor Learner was speaking at a conference organised by the British Association for the Advancement of Science in September 1999.

[Thanks to The Times, 15/09/1999]

 

Posted: May 1, 2000

Our Lady Well, Stirling disappears beneath new supermarket

   A letter to Northern Earth has revealed that yet another named well has disappeared. Norman Darwen located the site of Our Lady Well, Stirling, and identified it as the 'Whisky Well' marked on a map from 1896 (see Darwen, N. (1993). Northern Earth, 54, p.6-8). In that article he remarked on its poor state of repair and expressed concern about its future. He has now discovered that the area has been bulldozed to make way for a new Sainsbury supermarket.

[Thanks to Northern Earth, 79, p.27]

 

Posted: May 1, 2000

New well discovered near Padstow, Cornwall

   Meyn Mamvro reports that a holy well presumably dedicated to St George (SW 918 765) has recently been discovered near Padstow in Cornwall. A freshwater stream which flows in to the sea at St George's Cove just north of the town, opens out to form a pool. Steps lead down to the pool which is surrounded by trees.

   Padstow is the supposed landing place of St Petroc, the patron saint of Cornwall, when he journeyed from Ireland in the sixth century CE. Across the estuary from the well is Brea Hill which, not unlike other hills in Cornwall and beyond, is crowned by a prehistoric cairn. Brea is possibly derived from the Cornish for 'breast'. This has led Cheryl Straffon to suggest this as another example of a Goddess landscape later Christianised with the name of a saint

[Thanks to Meyn Mamvro, 41, p.5]

 

Posted: May 1, 2000

Sancreed well access issue still unresolved

   Visitors to the beautiful village of Sancreed in the West Penwith area of Cornwall may be left confused as to how to reach the well. It seems that certain local residents wish to close the current footpath leading from the church, and divert visitors across their land from opposite the church hall. The Ramblers Association are not happy with this arrangement and wish to make the current path, which they describe as 'the historic church path from the church to the well', the definitive one. There is however a new permissive path to the well from the north west, but it still awaits signposting.

[Thanks to Meyn Mamvro, 41, p.11]

 

Posted: May 1, 2000

Concern over St Nectan's Kieve, Cornwall

  More troubling news from Cornwall. Parts of Rocky Valley near Tintagel have fallen into private hands who are believed to have 'big ideas about developing the site'. Rumour has it that visitors will be charged to see the mazes and subjected to yet another Arthurian Gyfte Shoppe!!

   The valley which includes celebrated maze carvings and St Nectan's Kieve, was described as 'one of... the most strangely beautiful places in Cornwall' by Paul Broadhurst and a 'place of much ancient legend and elemental power' by Cheryl Straffon. The Kieve contains St Nectan's waterfall which features in Maclise's 'Girl at the Waterfall', now hanging in London's Victoria and Albert Museum. The sixth century Welsh martyr St Nectan is said to have lived as a hermit above the falls until his premature death at the hands of thieves. At the top of the valley lies St Piran's (or St Perran's) well, beside a Mediaeval pilgrims route to St Nectan's hermitage. Truly a sacred site that must be preserved from capitalist vandalism.

[Thanks to Meyn Mamvro, 41, p.11]

 

Posted: May 1, 2000

Is the Virgin Mary buried on Anglesey?

   'Years of investigation' have led historian Graham Phillips to the conclusion that the Virgin Mary is buried on the island of Anglesey, North Wales. According to Mr Phillips, Mary accompanied Joseph of Arimathea on his now famous trip to Glastonbury in Somerset, and was later buried by him at the church of St Mary the Virgin in the parish of Llanerchymedd.

   Mr Phillips' research, detailed in his new book The Marian Conspiracy, draws on the Bible and the writings of St Augustine. In a letter to Pope Gregory the Great in 597CE, St Augustine claimed to have found Mary's tomb in a church off the west coast of Britain. Mr Phillips goes further by claiming that Mary's remains were removed from the church and reburied beside the nearby well when the island was under attack by the Vikings in the tenth century. His theories have been criticised by both the vicar of St Mary the Virgin and by Dr Trystan Hughes from the University of Wales, Bangor, an expert in Roman Catholicism. Dr Hughes described the theory as being 'very tenuous'.

[Thanks to The Independent, 16/04/2000, p.13]

 

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