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TITLE
Healing Wells and Springs in the Highlands & Islands (3 of 3)
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CARD_5663_A
PLACENAME
Culloden Moor
DISTRICT
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
37291
KEYWORDS
wells
wishing wells
rituals
rites
trees
folklore
Healing Wells and Springs in the Highlands & Islands (3 of 3)

Below is a list of some of the springs, lochs and wells in the Highlands and Islands which were, and for some still are, believed to have the power to heal. (The image shows the 'Wishing Well' on Culloden Moor.)

There are many more wells which have local superstitions attached to them. "The Records of the Meeting of the Exercise of Alford" (New Spalding Club, 1847 p. 415) mentions six hundred wells in Scotland. Many were not "holy" or healing wells. Some were thought to control the weather and some were even "cursing" wells.

Well worship goes back to the time of the earl Celts but the Scottish Church was very much against it, so much so, that it was prohibited by the Kirk Session in the seventeenth century. It was ordained that "Whosoever shall be found guiltie of the premises that they mak ther publick repent-ance in sack cloth befor the congregaône" (Northern Notes and Queries vol IV 1890 pp. 27-8)


ROSS & CROMARTY


APPLECROSS - Fuaran Dearg (red spring). This spring is said to cure toothache and improve appetite.

AVOCH - Craiguck Well. This well, situated on the north shore of Munlochy Bay, is a "clootie" well, dedicated to St Bennet. It is still visited on the first Sunday in May. Believed for generations to be a source of healing and to provide protection against disease the visitor spills a little water on the ground three times, crosses himself, drinks the water, makes a wish and than ties a small piece of cloth to a nearby branch.

CRAIGHOWIE - In a cave situated on the south side of Munlochy Bay is a drip from the ceiling which was a said to cure earache and deafness. The patient had to tilt his head to the side and let the icy cold water drip into his ear.

CROMARTY - Fiddler's Well. Situated on the way to the South Sutor, water of this spring, if taken before noon, is supposed to cure many illnesses. The legend of this well is that two young men, good friends, became ill with tuberculosis at the same time. One died and the other, William Fiddler, remained gravely ill. However in a delirious dream William seemed to be directed by his dead friend to a rock on the shore called the Stormy and there the buzzing of a bumble bee seemed to be telling him to dig. When he did clear spring water gushed out. In the morning William went to the place in his dream, dug down and found water which when he drank it provided a miraculous cure.

FODDERTY - St John the Baptist's Well. This well, situated at the foot of Knockfarril, is supposed to have healing properties .According to the NSA the water is "of the purest kind" and "It used to be resorted to by sick people and maniacs, who always left on a neighbouring bush or tree a bit of coloured cloth or thread as a relic" The NSA also suggests that the name of the parish "Fodderty" may derive from the Gaelic "fuar dibhe" meaning cold drink or refreshment.

LOCH MAREE - St Maelrubha's Well. On Isle Maree was a well famous for the treatment of insanity. The patient was rowed clockwise round the island and dropped overboard three times before being taken to the island and given a drink from the well. A coin was then hammered in to a nearby tree. The well has dried up but the tree with its many coins is still there. Queen Victoria, while staying at the Loch Maree Hotel, had a coin put in to the tree.

MUNLOCHY - St Boniface's Well. This famous "Clootie" well is situated at the side of the road to Tore near Munlochy. Here a trickle of water comes out of a small pipe in the bank. In the past it was visited on the first Sunday of the month before sunrise and a silver coin would be offered. A piece of cloth was torn from the patient's clothing and tied to a nearby branch so that as the rag rotted it took with it the ailment. However the origins as a sacred healing well are somewhat lost and it has become a wishing well on the tourist route. The overhanging tree is festooned with everything from polythene bags to women's tights which have little likelihood of rotting away. It is rather unsightly but no-one is brave enough to clear it for fear of taking on all the ills of the original sufferers.

STRATHPEFFER - In the late 18th century the sulphur and iron-rich springs were declared to have healing powers and a steady stream of visitors came to the town. The water is supposed to cure diverse problems including digestive disorder, skin diseases and rheumatism.

TAIN - St Mary's Well. This well is situated on the shore north west of Tain. It is covered by the tide but when the tide ebbs the water, which should be drunk in the early morning, is fresh and sweet. It was said to be good for tuberculosis.

LOGIE EASTER - A well near the site of the old parish church was thought to foretell the future recovery or death of a sick person. If the water stayed the same colour the patient would recover but if it changed colour death would be the outcome


SUTHERLAND


LOCH MONAR - This is an old and popular source of healing water. It is supposed to cure many illness and all people, except those who have the name Gordon. A woman claimed to cure diseases by giving patients water to drink in to which she had put some pebbles. When a man named Gordon tried to take the pebbles from her she threw them in to the loch crying "Mo-nar", which means "my shame", giving the loch both its name and its power. Healing only takes place on the first Monday of February, May, August and November. The patient has to be plunged in the water three times, drink some water, throw in a silver coin and be out of sight of the loch by sunrise. Some older versions of the ritual required the patient to have been bound and starved the day before and for the immersion to be carried out in silence at the first streak of dawn.

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Healing Wells and Springs in the Highlands & Islands (3 of 3)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

wells; wishing wells; rituals; rites; trees; folklore

Highland Libraries

Highland Libraries' Postcard Collection

Below is a list of some of the springs, lochs and wells in the Highlands and Islands which were, and for some still are, believed to have the power to heal. (The image shows the 'Wishing Well' on Culloden Moor.)<br /> <br /> There are many more wells which have local superstitions attached to them. "The Records of the Meeting of the Exercise of Alford" (New Spalding Club, 1847 p. 415) mentions six hundred wells in Scotland. Many were not "holy" or healing wells. Some were thought to control the weather and some were even "cursing" wells. <br /> <br /> Well worship goes back to the time of the earl Celts but the Scottish Church was very much against it, so much so, that it was prohibited by the Kirk Session in the seventeenth century. It was ordained that "Whosoever shall be found guiltie of the premises that they mak ther publick repent-ance in sack cloth befor the congregaône" (Northern Notes and Queries vol IV 1890 pp. 27-8)<br /> <br /> <br /> ROSS & CROMARTY<br /> <br /> <br /> APPLECROSS - Fuaran Dearg (red spring). This spring is said to cure toothache and improve appetite.<br /> <br /> AVOCH - Craiguck Well. This well, situated on the north shore of Munlochy Bay, is a "clootie" well, dedicated to St Bennet. It is still visited on the first Sunday in May. Believed for generations to be a source of healing and to provide protection against disease the visitor spills a little water on the ground three times, crosses himself, drinks the water, makes a wish and than ties a small piece of cloth to a nearby branch.<br /> <br /> CRAIGHOWIE - In a cave situated on the south side of Munlochy Bay is a drip from the ceiling which was a said to cure earache and deafness. The patient had to tilt his head to the side and let the icy cold water drip into his ear.<br /> <br /> CROMARTY - Fiddler's Well. Situated on the way to the South Sutor, water of this spring, if taken before noon, is supposed to cure many illnesses. The legend of this well is that two young men, good friends, became ill with tuberculosis at the same time. One died and the other, William Fiddler, remained gravely ill. However in a delirious dream William seemed to be directed by his dead friend to a rock on the shore called the Stormy and there the buzzing of a bumble bee seemed to be telling him to dig. When he did clear spring water gushed out. In the morning William went to the place in his dream, dug down and found water which when he drank it provided a miraculous cure.<br /> <br /> FODDERTY - St John the Baptist's Well. This well, situated at the foot of Knockfarril, is supposed to have healing properties .According to the NSA the water is "of the purest kind" and "It used to be resorted to by sick people and maniacs, who always left on a neighbouring bush or tree a bit of coloured cloth or thread as a relic" The NSA also suggests that the name of the parish "Fodderty" may derive from the Gaelic "fuar dibhe" meaning cold drink or refreshment.<br /> <br /> LOCH MAREE - St Maelrubha's Well. On Isle Maree was a well famous for the treatment of insanity. The patient was rowed clockwise round the island and dropped overboard three times before being taken to the island and given a drink from the well. A coin was then hammered in to a nearby tree. The well has dried up but the tree with its many coins is still there. Queen Victoria, while staying at the Loch Maree Hotel, had a coin put in to the tree.<br /> <br /> MUNLOCHY - St Boniface's Well. This famous "Clootie" well is situated at the side of the road to Tore near Munlochy. Here a trickle of water comes out of a small pipe in the bank. In the past it was visited on the first Sunday of the month before sunrise and a silver coin would be offered. A piece of cloth was torn from the patient's clothing and tied to a nearby branch so that as the rag rotted it took with it the ailment. However the origins as a sacred healing well are somewhat lost and it has become a wishing well on the tourist route. The overhanging tree is festooned with everything from polythene bags to women's tights which have little likelihood of rotting away. It is rather unsightly but no-one is brave enough to clear it for fear of taking on all the ills of the original sufferers.<br /> <br /> STRATHPEFFER - In the late 18th century the sulphur and iron-rich springs were declared to have healing powers and a steady stream of visitors came to the town. The water is supposed to cure diverse problems including digestive disorder, skin diseases and rheumatism.<br /> <br /> TAIN - St Mary's Well. This well is situated on the shore north west of Tain. It is covered by the tide but when the tide ebbs the water, which should be drunk in the early morning, is fresh and sweet. It was said to be good for tuberculosis.<br /> <br /> LOGIE EASTER - A well near the site of the old parish church was thought to foretell the future recovery or death of a sick person. If the water stayed the same colour the patient would recover but if it changed colour death would be the outcome<br /> <br /> <br /> SUTHERLAND<br /> <br /> <br /> LOCH MONAR - This is an old and popular source of healing water. It is supposed to cure many illness and all people, except those who have the name Gordon. A woman claimed to cure diseases by giving patients water to drink in to which she had put some pebbles. When a man named Gordon tried to take the pebbles from her she threw them in to the loch crying "Mo-nar", which means "my shame", giving the loch both its name and its power. Healing only takes place on the first Monday of February, May, August and November. The patient has to be plunged in the water three times, drink some water, throw in a silver coin and be out of sight of the loch by sunrise. Some older versions of the ritual required the patient to have been bound and starved the day before and for the immersion to be carried out in silence at the first streak of dawn.