Ancient Monuments

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Holy well north west of Roche Station

A Scheduled Monument in Roche, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4207 / 50°25'14"N

Longitude: -4.8378 / 4°50'16"W

OS Eastings: 198506.091524

OS Northings: 61722.517091

OS Grid: SW985617

Mapcode National: GBR ZT.HQJH

Mapcode Global: FRA 07RY.333

Entry Name: Holy well NW of Roche Station

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1900

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004342

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 636

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Roche

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Withiel

Church of England Diocese: Truro


Holy well 60m north east of Holywell.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 7 December 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a holy well situated beside a footpath in a secluded small valley of a tributary to the River Camel close to a cottage which is also called Holywell. The holy well survives as a small square structure with an arched granite roof standing approximately 1.6m high over a trough measuring 0.9m square by 0.3m deep which is filled by a spring.

The holy well was first mentioned by Lysons and fully described by Courteney in 1890 and by Quiller-Couch in 1894. All sources indicated that the well was reputed to have healing properties for many diseases, especially those of the eyes and that it was in use up until the 19th century. It also formed the water supply to the nearby cottage. A chapel once stood nearby, although the exact location is unknown but this was removed in about 1780.

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. Structures may include lined well shafts or conduit heads on springs, often with a tank to gather the water at the surface. The roofing of walled enclosures to protect the water source and define the sacred area created well houses which may be simple, unadorned small structures closely encompassing the water source. 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. Despite some ‘restoration’ the holy well 60m north east of Holywell survives comparatively well and had a long and much respected tradition for healing.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:-430581

Source: Historic England

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