Scotland has an abundance of Holy wells and Stonehouse is no exception.
Four Holy wells are found within the parish and numerous other wells
(natural springs) supplied the water needs of the village. Stonehouse
appears to be technically an island, surrounded by rivers and burns
making it impossible to leave the village without crossing water, thus
there is no lack of supply to the wells.
Holy wells are of pagan origin, from a time when there were many
superstitions surrounding water. Pilgrims and Christians from all over the countryside would flock to try their healing properties or
administer Christian baptisms, as was probably the case at St.Ninian’s
well. This well like the old kirk church and churchyard, was dedicated
to St.Ninian. Over the centuries St. Ninian’s well has been corrupted into Ringan Well. Ringwell Gardens at West Mains is
a further corruption of this historic site. Today all that remains is a
two metre square hole covered with stone slabs and filled with rubbish
between the farm of East Mains and the old kirk.
Situated on the banks of the Avon on the lands of Patrickholm lies
St.Patrick’s well, known for its healing properties in curing
tuberculosis and skin diseases. This may just be a coincidence but
Stonehouse Hospital was
originally built in 1896 to provide care and
treatment for sufferers of tuberculosis and other related diseases.
This well, like so many others was dedicated to another preacher of
Christianity. St.Patrick is said to have spread the gospel throughout
this area including Dalserf and, like Ninian his name appears
throughout the country. This sulphurous spring can still be seen today
trickling through a stratum of rock and cascading down the gorge. Its
smell and white colouring are easily identifiable. Ordnance survey maps
record this historic site as a physic well.
St.Anthony’s well was a prominent well in its time; also known as
Brackenhill well, situated not a great distance from Spittal House
which was formerly a hospital and a convent built in 1723. Spittal or
‘spittle’, in a dictionary is described as a hospital for foul
diseases. The well can still be found today surrounded by a small stone
wall one and a half feet high and about two metres square.
Unfortunately, boring during the New Town survey is said to have caused
the well to dry up. It is thought that Anthony came from a wealthy
family and spoke only his native language, which was that of the
ancient Egyptians. He was known as a carer of the poor, patron and
protector of the lower animals. The well which was dedicated to him was
notable for being high in iron content and known for curing diseases
particularly those affecting horses. Naismith stated that in olden
times horses were brought to drink at the well, often over great
distances. It was believed that horses were taken to drink at the
spring and sometimes water was carried a considerable distance for the
same purpose. In the Summer of 1994, the Heritage Group carried out a
restoration project on the well which had suffered through vandalism
and the elements of nature.
St.Laurence’s well rises from the Watston burn at Chapel farm where an
ancient chapel formerly stood, dedicated to St.Laurence, thus he is
guardian of the well. Little is known of this well or its medicinal
powers. St.Laurence himself was known to be a deacon and martyr of
Rome, carer of the destitute, helpless and sick. Today the well is home
to various water fowl on Chapel farm.