Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs
Chapter VI - Healing and Holy Wells

Healing and Holy — Modern Health-resorts -- King's Ease —Poorhouse of Ayr—Muswell—St. Martin's Chapel—Alum Wells -- Petrifying Springs—Peterhead—Moss of Melshacb—Well of Spa—Chapel Wells at Kirkmaiden—Medan—St. Catherine's Balm Well — The Sciennes — St. Bernard's Well — Non-mineral Wells— Early Saints — Water for Discipline—For Baptism — Burghead — Lough Shanan -- Tobar-an-easbuig—Poetry and Superstition—Heljabrun—Trinity Hospital and Well — St. Mungo's Well — Fuaran n' Gruarach — Spring in Athole—Fiddler's Well—Water as a Prophylactic.

HEALING - and holy have an etymological kinship. The one is commonly associated with matters relating to the body, and the other with those relating to the soul. If the body is healed, it is said to be whole and its owner hale; and if the soul is healed, it is said to be holy. All these words have one idea in common, and hence we need not wonder that healing wells were, as a rule, reckoned holy wells, and vice versa. When speaking of the virtues of such wells, Mrs. Stone, in her "God's Acre," puts the point exactly, if somewhat quaintly, when she says, "Before chemistry was born, when medical science was little known, these medical virtues, so plainly and indisputably ostensible, were attributed to the beneficence of the saint or angel to whom the spring had been dedicated." Many still go to Moffat, Bridge-of-Allan, and Strathpeffer to drink the waters, but probably, none of those health-seekers now rely on magic for a cure. It was quite otherwise in former times. Cures wrought at Lourdes are still believed, by many, to be due to the blessing of the water by the Virgin Mary.

Not far from the highway between Ayr and Prestwick once stood a lazar-house called King's Ease or King's Case, known in the sixteenth century as Kilcaiss. Its ruins were to be seen till well on in the present century. According to tradition, the hospital was founded for lepers by King Robert Bruce, who was himself afflicted with a disease believed to be leprosy. This was done as a thank-offering, for benefit received from the water of a neighbouring well. The spring was doubtless sacred to some saint, probably to Ninian, to whom the hospital was dedicated, and we can safely infer that the patron got the credit of the cure. To maintain the lepers the king gifted various lands to the hospital, among others, those of Robertlone, in Dundonald parish, and of Sheles and Spital-Sheles, in Kyle Stewart. The right of presentation to the hospital was vested in the family of Wallace of Craigie. At a later date the lands belonging to the charity passed into other hands. In the third volume of his "Caledonia," published in 1824, Chalmers remarks, "The only revenue that remained to it was the feu-duties payable from the lands granted in fee-firm, and these, amounting to 64 bolls of meal and 8 marks Scots of money, with 16 threaves of straw for thatching the hospital, are still paid. For more than two centuries past the diminished revenue has been shared among eight objects of charity in equal shares of 8 bolls of meal and 1 mark Scots to each. The leprosy having long disappeared, the persons who are now admitted to the benefit of this charity are such as labour under diseases which are considered as incurable, or such as are in indigent circumstances." In the time of Charles I., the persons enjoying the benefit of the charity lived in huts or cottages in the vicinity of the chapel. In 1787 the right of presentation was bought from the Wallaces by the burgh of Ayr, and the poorhouse there is thus the lineal descendant of King Robert's hospital. Mr. R. C. Hope, in his "Holy Wells," alludes to the interesting fact that Bruce had a free pass from the English king to visit Muswell, near London, close to the site of the Alexandra Palace. This well, dedicated to St. Lazarus, at one time belonged to the hospital order of St. John's, Clerkenwell, and was resorted to in cases of leprosy. Bruce's foundation at Ayr recalls another at Stony Middleton, in Derbyshire. The latter, however, was a chapel, and not a hospital. Tradition says that a crusader, belonging to the district, was cured of leprosy by means of the mineral water there, and that in gratitude he built a chapel and dedicated it to his patron saint, Martin.

In glancing at the history of holy wells, it is not difficult to understand why certain springs were endowed with mysterious properties. When there were no chemists to analyse mineral springs, anyone tasting the water would naturally enough think that there was something strange about it, a notion that would not vanish with the first draught. The wonder, too, would grow if the water was found to put fresh vigour into wearied frames. Alum wells, like the one in Carnwath parish, Lanarkshire, would, through their astringent qualities, arrest attention. A well at Halkirk, Caithness, must have been a cause of wonder, if we judge by the description given of it in the "Old Statistical Account of Scotland," where we read, that "on its surface lies . always a thin beautiful kind of substance, that varies like the plumage of the peacock displayed in all its glory to the rays of the sun."

The petrifying power of certain springs would also tend to bring them into notice. There is a famous well of this kind near Tarras Water, in Canonbie parish, Dumfriesshire. In Kirkmaiden parish, Wigtownshire, is a dropping cave, known as Peter's Paps. In former times it was resorted to by persons suffering from whooping-cough. The treatment consisted in standing with upturned face below the drop, and allowing it to fall into the open mouth. For more than two centuries and a half, the mineral waters of Peterhead have been famous for both internal and external use, though their fame is not now so great as formerly. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, they were spoken of as one of the six wonders of Buchan. The principal well is situated to the south of the town, and is popularly called the Wine Well. Its water is strongly impregnated with carbonic acid, muriate of iron, muriate of lime, and muriate of soda. The chalybeate spring in the Moss of Melshach, in Kennethmont parish, had at one time a considerable local reputation for the cure of man and beast. Clothes of the former and harness of the latter were left beside the well. Visits were paid to it in the month of May. Another Aberdeenshire health - resort formerly attracted many visitors, viz., Pannanich, near Ballater, with its four chalybeate springs. These are said to have been accidentally discovered, about the middle of last century, but were then probably only rediscovered. They were at first found beneficial in the case of scrofula, and were afterwards deemed infallible in all diseases. In his "Antiquities and Scenery of the North of Scotland," Cordiner, under date 1776, writes: "In coming down these hilly regions, stopped the first night at `Pananach-lodge:' an extensive building opposite to the strange rocks and pass of Bolliter. There, a mineral well and baths, whose virtues have been often experienced, are become much frequented by the infirm. The lodge, containing a number of bed-chambers, and a spacious public room, is fitted up for the accommodation of those who come to take the benefit of the waters. Goat whey is also there obtained in the greatest perfection." Almost a century later, another visitor to the spot, viz., Queen Victoria, thus writes, in her "More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands": "I had driven with Beatrice to Pannanich wells, where I had been many years ago. Unfortunately, almost all the trees which covered the hills have been cut down. We got out and tasted the water, which is strongly impregnated with iron, and looked at the bath and at the humble, but very clean, accommodation in the curious little old inn, which used to be very much frequented." The Well of Spa, at Aberdeen, was more famous in former times than it is now. There are two springs, both of them chalybeate. The amount of iron in the water, however, diminished very considerably more than fifty years ago—a change due to certain digging operations in the neighbourhood. The present structure connected with the well was renovated in 1851. It was built in 1670 to replace an earlier one, repaired by George Jamieson, the artist, but soon afterwards completely demolished by the overflowing of the adjoining Denburn. The present building, according to Mr. A. Jervise, in the fourth volume of the "Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland," "bears representations of the Scottish Thistle, the Rose of England, and the Fleur-de-lis of France, surmounting this inscription:

'As As heaven gives me
So give I thee.'

Below these words is a carving of the rising sun, and the following altered quotation from Horace:—

Hoc fonte derivata Salus
In patriam populumque fluat.'

Picture of the Well of Spa in Aberdeen supplied by Stan Bruce

"It appears," continues Mr. Jervise, "that the virtues of this Spa were early known and appreciated, for in 1615 record says that there was 'a long wyde stone which conveyed the waters from the spring, with the portraicture of six Apostles hewen upon either side thereof.' It is described as having then been 'verie old and worne."

An unusual kind of holy well, viz., one, in which salt water takes the place of fresh, is to be found in the case of the Chapel Wells in Kirkmaiden parish, Wigtownshire, half way between the bays of Portankill and East Tarbet. About thirty yards to the north-west are the ruins of St. Medan's Chapel, partly artificial and partly natural, a cave forming the inner portion. In days gone by, the spot was much frequented on the first Sunday of May (O.S.), called Co' Sunday, after this cave or cove. Dr. Robert Trotter, who examined the chapel and the wells in 1870, gives the results of the observations in the eighth volume of the "Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland" (new series). He says, "These wells—three natural cavities in a as of porphyritic trap—are within the tide mark, and are filled by the sea at high water of ordinary tides. The largest is circular, five feet in diameter at the top, and four feet at one side, shelving down to five feet at the other, and is wider inside than at the top, something like a kailpot in fact, and it is so close to the edge of the rock that at one place its side is not two inches thick. The other wells almost touch it, and are about one foot six inches wide and deep respectively." Sickly children were brought to be bathed, the time selected being just before sunrise. Dr. Trotter mentions that children are still brought occasionally, sometimes from long distances. The ceremony described to him by an eyewitness was as follows:—"The child was stripped naked, and taken by the spaul—that is, by one of the legs—and plunged headforemost into the big well till completely submerged; it was then pulled out, and the part held on by was dipped in the middle well, and then the whole body was finished by washing the eyes in the smallest one, altogether very like the Achilles and Styx business, only much more thorough. An offering was then left in the old chapel, on a projecting stone inside the cave behind the west door, and the cure was complete."

Much uncertainty attaches to Medan or Medana, the tutelar saint of the spot. One legend makes her a contemporary of Ninian. According to another, she lived about one hundred years later. Dr. Skene thinks she is probably the same as Monenna, otherwise Edana, who is said to have founded churches in Galloway, and at Edinburgh, Stirling and Longforgan. Kirkmaiden parish, at one time called Kirkmaiden in Ryndis, is believed to be named after her, ]ike the other parish known as Kirkmaiden in Farnes, now united to the parish of Glasserton. An incident in her history has a bearing on the present subject. According to the Aberdeen Breviary, she fled from her home in Ireland to escape from the importunities of a certain noble knight who sought to marry her. Accompanied by two . handmaidens, she crossed to Galloway and took up her abode in the Rhinns. The knight followed her. When Medana saw him she placed herself along with her maidens on a rock in the sea. By a miracle, this rock became a boat, and she was conveyed over the water to Fames. Again the knight appeared. This time Medana sought refuge among the branches of a tree, and, from this coign of vantage, asked her lover what it was that made him pursue her so persistently. "Your face and eyes," replied the knight. Thereupon Medana plucked out her eyes and threw them down at the feet of her lover, who was so filled with grief and penitence that he immediately departed. On the spot where her eyes fell a spring of water gushed forth, and in it Medana washed her face, doubtless thereby restoring her sight. There is much to favour the view taken by Dr. Trotter: that "possibly the well was the original institution; the cave a shelter or dwelling for the genius who discovered the miraculous virtues of the water, and his successors; and the chapel a later edition for the benefit of the clergy, who supplanted the old religion by grafting Christianity upon it, St. Medana being a still later institution."

St. Catherine's Balm Well, at Liberton, near Edinburgh, is still considered beneficial in the treatment of cutaneous affections. The spring is situated on a small estate, called after it, St. Catherine's. Peter Swave, who visited Scotland in 1535, on a political mission, mentions that near Edinburgh there was a spot in a monastery where oil flowed out of the ground. This was his way of describing the Balm Well. Bitumenous particles, produced by decomposition of coal in seams beneath, intermittently appear on the surface of the water. This curious phenomenon must have attracted attention at a very early period, and one can easily understand why the well was in consequence regarded with superstitious reverence. When speaking of this well, Brome, who visited Scotland about 1700, observes, "It is of a marvellous nature, for as the coal whereof it proceeds is very apt quickly to kindle into a flame, so is the oil of a sudden operation to heal all scabs and tumours that trouble the outward skin; and the head and hands are speedily healed by virtue of this oil, which retains a very sweet smell." According to Boece, the fountain sprang from a drop of oil, brought to Queen Margaret of Scotland, from the tomb of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. The same writer mentions that Queen Margaret built a chapel to St. Catherine, in the neighbourhood of the spring. In 1504 an offering was made by James IV. in this chapel, described as "Sanct Kathrine's of the oly, i.e., oily well." The later history of the spring is thus referred to by Sir Daniel Wilson, in his "Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time": "When James VI. returned to Scotland, in 1617, he visited the well, and commanded it to be enclosed with an ornamental building with a flight of steps to afford ready access to the healing waters; but this was demolished by the soldiers of Cromwell, and the well now remains enclosed with plain stone-work, as it was partially repaired at the Restoration." About three miles to the north of the well, once stood the Convent of St. Catherine of Sienna—a religious foundation which gave name to the part of Edinburgh still called "The Sciennes." What Sir Daniel Wilson describes as "an unpicturesque fragment of the ruins" served to the middle of the present century, and perhaps, even later, as a sheep-fold for the flocks pasturing in the adjoining meadow. Lord Cockburn, in his "Memorials of His Time," mentions that in his boyhood, about 1785, "a large portion of the building survived." Before the Reformation the nuns of this convent walked annually in solemn procession to the Balm Well. The saints to whom the convent and the spring were respectively dedicated were, of course, not identical, though bearing the same name. The coincidence of name, however, evidently led to these yearly visits. As it may be taken for granted that the two Catherines were on friendly terms, the pilgrimages doubtless proved a benefit to all who took part in them. At any rate, it is safe to assume that the health of the pilgrims would be the better, and not the worse, for their walk in the fresh country air.

In the valley below the Dean Bridge, Edinburgh, close to the Water of Leith, is the sulphur spring known as St. Bernard's Well—traditionally connected with Bernard the Abbot of Clairvaux. In his "Journey through Scotland," about 1793, Heron remarks: "The citizens of Edinburgh repaired eagerly to distant watering-places, without inquiring whether they might find medicinal water at home. But within these few years, Lord Gardenstone became proprietor of St. Bernard's Well. His lordship's philanthropy and public spirit suggested to him the possibility of rendering its waters more useful to the public. He has, at a very considerable expense, built a handsome Grecian edifice over the spring, in which the waters are distributed by a proper person, and at a very trifling price. His lordship's endeavours have accomplished his purpose. The citizens of Edinburgh are now persuaded that these waters are salutary in various cases; and have, particularly, a singular tendency to give a good breakfasting appetite; in consequence of which, old and young, males and females, have, for these two or three last summers, crowded to pay their morning respects to Hygeia in the chapel which Lord Gardenstone has erected to her." The last allusion is to a statue of Hygeia placed within the building on its erection, in 1789. The goddess of health, however, eventually showed signs of decrepitude; and, about a hundred years later, the original statue was replaced by one in marble through the liberality of the late Mr. William Nelson, who also restored the pump-room and made the surroundings more attractive.

Coming next to consider the case of springs not possessing medicinal qualities, in other words, such as have no taste save that of clear and sparkling water, we find here, too, many a trace of superstition. Springs of this kind were probably holy wells first, and then healing wells. We have already seen that, in a large number of instances, fountains became sacred through their connection with early saints. It usually happened that the Christian missionary took up his abode near some fountain, or river, whence he could get a supply of water for his daily needs. In later times the well or stream was endowed with miraculous properties. Water was also used for purposes of bodily discipline. It was a practice among some of the early saints to stand immersed in it while engaged in devotion. The colder the water, the better was it for the purpose. Special significance, too, was given to water through its connection with baptism, particularly when the rite was administered to persons who had only recently emerged from heathenism.

At Burghead, in Elginshire, is an interesting rock-cut basin supplied with water from a spring. Burghead is known to have been the site of an early Christian church, and Dr. James Macdonald believes that the basin in question was anciently used as a baptistery. All trace of it, and well-nigh all memory of it, had vanished till the year 1809. Extensive alterations were then in progress at the harbour, and a scarcity of water was felt by the workmen. A hazy tradition about the existence of a well, where the ground sounded hollow when struck, was revived. Digging operations were begun, and, at a depth of between twenty and thirty feet below the surface, the basin was discovered. We quote the following details from Dr. Macdonald's article on the subject in the "Antiquary " for April, 1892:—"Descending into a hollow by a flight of twenty well-worn steps, most of them also hewn out of the solid rock, we come upon the reservoir. The dimensions of the basin or piscina are as follow—greatest breadth of the four sides, ten feet eight inches, eleven feet, ten feet ten inches, and ten feet seven inches respectively; depth, four feet four inches. One part of the smooth bottom had been dug up at the time of the excavations, either because it had projected above the rest, as if for some one to stand upon, or because it was thought that by doing so the capacity of the well and perhaps the supply of the water would be increased. Between the basin and the perpendicular sides of the reservoir a small ledge of sandstone has been left about two feet six inches in breadth. These sides measure sixteen feet three inches, sixteen feet seven inches, sixteen feet nine inches, and seventeen feet respectively; and the height from the ledge upwards is eleven feet nine inches. The angles, both of the basin and its rock walls, are well rounded. In one corner the sandstone has been left in the form of a semi-circular pedestal, measuring two feet nine inches by one foot ten inches, and one foot two inches in height; whilst in that diagonally opposite there is a circular hole, five inches in diameter and one foot four inches in depth. From the ledge, as you enter, two steps of irregular shape and rude workmanship lead down into the basin. The sides of the reservoir are fissured and rent by displacement of the strata; and portions of the rock, that have given way from time to time, have been replaced by modern masonry. The arched roof is also modern." An Irish legend accounts for the origin of Lough-shanan, in County Clare, by connecting it with the baptism of Senanus, from whom it derived its name. "The saint, while still an infant, was miraculously gifted with speech and told his mother to pluck three rushes in a valley near her home. When this was done, a lake appeared, and in it Senanus was baptised according to a form of words prescribed by himself."

In the eighth volume of the "Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland" (new series), Sir Daniel Wilson gives an account of the ancient burying-ground of Kilbride, some three miles from Oban. "I had visited the venerable cemetery repeatedly," he tells us, ." and had carefully investigated its monuments, without heeding the sacred fountain which wells up among the bracken and grass, about a dozen yards from the gate of the churchyard, and flows in a stream down the valley. Yet, on inquiry, I learned that it was familiarly known as Tober-an-easbuig, i.e., The Bishop's Well or The Holy Well. Here, as we may presume, the primitive missionary and servant of St. Bridget, by whom Christianity was introduced into the wild district of Lorne, baptised his first converts; and here, through many succeeding generations, the neophytes were signed with the sign of the cross, and taught the mystic significance of the holy rite."

The thoughts suggested by the sight of a crystal spring are alluded to by Mr. Hunt in his "Romances of the West of England," where he says, "The tranquil beauty of the rising waters, whispering the softest music, like the healthful breathing of a sleeping infant, sends a feeling of happiness through the soul of the thoughtful observer, and the inner man is purified by its influence, as the outer man is cleansed by ablution." This is the poetic view ; but the superstitious view is not far to seek.

In the "Home of a Naturalist," Mrs. Saxby thus recounts a Shetland superstition of a gruesome kind: —"There is a fine spring well near Watlie, called Heljabriin, and the legend of it is this: A wandering packman (of the Claud Halcro class) was murdered and flung into Heljabrtin. Its water had always been known to possess healing power, and, after becoming seasoned by the unfortunate pedlar's remains, the virtue in the water became even more efficacious. People came from far and near to procure the precious fluid. All who took it away had to throw three stones or a piece of `white money' into the well, and the water never failed to cure disease."

On Soutra Hill, the most westerly ridge of the Lammermoors, once stood the hospital built by Malcolm IV., about 1164, for the reception of wayfarers. It was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Every vestige of the building was removed between forty and fifty years ago except a small aisle, appropriated in the seventeenth century by the Pringles of Beat-man's Acre as a burial vault. A short distance below the site of the hospital is a spring of pure water, locally known as Trinity Well. In former times it was much visited for its healing virtues. A similar reputation was for long enjoyed by St. Mungo's Well, on the west side of St. Mungo's Hill, in the parish of Huntly, Aberdeenshire. In Fortingall parish, Perthshire, on the hillside near the Old Castle of Garth, is a limpid spring called by the natives Fuaran n' Gruarach, and also Fuaran n' Druibh Chasad, signifying the Well of the Measles and the Well of the Whooping-Cough respectively. Mr. James Mackintosh Gow describes the locality in an article in the eighth volume of the "Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland" (new series)., He says, "It was famous in the district for the cure of these infantile diseases, and nearly all I spoke to on the subject had themselves been taken to the well, or had taken their own children to drink the water; and when an epidemic of the maladies occurred my informant remarked on the curious and amusing spectacle the scene presented on a summer morning, when groups of children, with their mothers, went up the hill in procession. The last epidemic of whooping-cough occurred in 1882, when all the children of the neighbourhood were taken to the well." Some forty yards higher up the slope than the well, is an earth-fast boulder of mica schist, having on one of its sides two natural cavities. The larger of these holds about a quart and is usually filled with rain water. "It was the custom," Mr. Gow tells us, "to carry the water from the well (perhaps the well was at one time at the foot of the stone) and place it in the cavity, and then give the patients as much as they could take, the water being administered with a spoon made from the horn of a living cow, called a beodhare or living horn; this, it appears, being essential to effect a cure." On the farm of Balandonich, in Athole, is a spring famous, till a comparatively recent period, for the cure of various maladies. A story is told in the district of a woman, unable to walk through rheumatism, having been brought in a wheel-barrow from her home four miles away. She bathed her limbs in the spring, and returned home on foot.

Hugh Miller, in his "Scene8 and Legends of the North of Scotland," recounts a tradition concerning a certain spring near the town of Cromarty known as Fiddler's Well, from the name of the young man who discovered its virtues. The water gushes out from the side of a bank covered with moss and daisies. The tradition, considerably abbreviated, is as follows:—William Fiddler and a companion were seized with consumption at the same time. The latter died not long afterwards, and Fiddler, though wasted to a shadow, was able to follow his friend's body to the grave. That night, in a dream, he heard the voice of his dead companion, who told him to meet him at a certain spot in the neighbourhood of the town. Thither he went, still in his dream, and seated himself on a bank to await his coming. Then, remembering that his friend was dead, he burst into tears. "At this moment a large field-bee came humming from the west and began to fly round his head. . . . It hummed ceaselessly round and round him, until at length its murmurings seemed to be fashioned into words, articulated in the voice of his deceased companion—'Dig, Willie, and drink!' it said, `Dig, Willie, and drink!' He accordingly set himself to dig, and no sooner had he torn a sod out of the bank than a spring of clear water gushed from the hollow." Next day he took the bee's advice. He found a spring, drank the water, and regained his health. Hugh Miller adds, "its virtues are still celebrated, for though the water be only simple water it must be drunk in the morning, and as it gushes from the bank; and, with pure air, exercise, and early rising for its auxiliaries, it continues to work cures."

We need not multiply examples of non-mineral healing wells. Whatever benefit may be derived from them cannot be ascribed to any specially medicinal quality in their waters. The secret of their popularity is to be sought for in the annals of medical folklore, and not in those of scientific medicine.

Certain springs got the credit of warding off disease. On the island of Gigha, near the west coast of Kintyre, is a farm called Ardachad or High Field. Tradition says that a plague once visited the island, but that the people, belonging to the farm, escaped its ravages. This immunity was ascribed to the good offices of a well, in an adjoining field. The high situation of the farm and the presence of good water would tend to prolong health, without the intervention of magic. The Rev. Dr. Gregor, in his "Folklore of the North-East of Scotland," alludes to St. Olaus' Well in Cruden parish, Aberdeenshire. Its virtues are recorded in the couplet

"St. OIav's Well, low by the sea
Where pest nor plague shall never be."

On the top of the Touch Hills, in Stirlingshire, rises St. Corbet's Spring. The belief formerly prevailed that whoever drank its water before sunrise on the first Sunday of May would have life prolonged for another year. As a consequence, crowds flocked to the spot early on the day in question. In 1840 some old people were still living who, in their younger days, had taken part in these annual pilgrimages. In mediaeval times, the belief prevailed that no one baptised with the water of Trinity Gask Well, Perthshire, would be attacked by the plague. When water for baptism was drawn from some holy well in the neighbourhood, its use, in most instances, was doubtless due to a belief in its prophylactic power. As already mentioned, baptisms in St. Machar's Cathedral, Old Aberdeen, were at one time administered in water taken from the saint's spring. Before the Reformation the water used at the chapel of Airth, in Stirlingshire, is believed to have been procured from a well, dedicated to the Virgin, near Abbeyton Bridge. We do not know of any spring in Scotland with a reputation for the prevention of hydrophobia. St. Maelrubha's Well, on Innis Maree, is said to have lost its efficacy for a time through contact with a mad dog. What happened, when a mad bull was plunged into the Holy Pool at Strathfillan, will be alluded to later. In the village of Les Saintes Manes, in the south of France, is an interesting twelfth-century church with a well in the crypt. The water, when drunk, is said to prevent any evil consequences from the bite of a mad dog. Mr. E. H. Barker gives an account of this well in his "Wayfaring in France." He says, "The cure told me that about thirty people, who had been bitten by dogs said to be rabid, came annually to drink the water; and, he added, 'not one of them has ever gone mad.' M. Pasteur had become a formidable rival of the well."

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus