Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Holy well called Madron Well

A Scheduled Monument in Madron, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1397 / 50°8'22"N

Longitude: -5.5763 / 5°34'34"W

OS Eastings: 144557.737928

OS Northings: 32746.999877

OS Grid: SW445327

Mapcode National: GBR DXM9.SMN

Mapcode Global: VH059.9RD9

Entry Name: Holy well called Madron Well

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1970

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004310

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 722

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Madron

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Madron

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a holy well situated to the north west of the settlement of Madron and closely associated with other ecclesiastical monuments including a chapel and a wayside cross. The well survives as a small rectangular stone-lined and water-filled well shaft. The well has long been held in traditional repute and is linked with the cult of St Madern. The well was described by Quiller Couch in 1894 as a simple small hole in the ground although Henderson in the 1920's noted there were rough steps leading to it.
The well, chapel and cross are scheduled separately.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:- 1457638

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Holy wells are water sources with specifically Christian associations. The custom of venerating springs and wells as sacred sites is also known to have characterised pre-Christian religions in Britain and, although Christian wells have been identified from as early as the 6th century AD, it is clear that some holy wells originated as earlier sacred sites. The cult of holy wells continued throughout the medieval period. Its condemnation at the time of the Reformation (c.1540) ended new foundations but local reverence and folklore customs at existing holy wells often continued, in some cases to the present day. The holy wells sometimes functioned as sites for baptism but they were also revered for less tangible reasons, some of which may have had origins in pre- Christian customs, such as folklore beliefs in the healing powers of the water and its capacity to affect a desired outcome for future events. Associated rituals often evolved, usually requiring the donation of an object or coin to retain the 'sympathy' of the well for the person seeking its benefits. At their simplest, holy wells may be unelaborated natural springs with associated religious traditions. Structural additions may include lined well shafts or conduit heads on springs, often with a tank to gather the water at the surface. The number of holy wells is not known but estimates suggest at least 600 nationally. Of these, over 200 are recorded from Cornwall, providing one of the highest densities of surviving examples. They provide important information on the nature of religious beliefs and practices and on the relationship between religion and the landscape during the medieval period. The holy well called Madron Well forms part of an important ecclesiastic grouping with a long held tradition.

Source: Historic England

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