Ancient Monuments

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Scarisbrick Park holy well

A Scheduled Monument in Scarisbrick, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.6012 / 53°36'4"N

Longitude: -2.9268 / 2°55'36"W

OS Eastings: 338762.935423

OS Northings: 412027.271153

OS Grid: SD387120

Mapcode National: GBR 8V0S.4S

Mapcode Global: WH869.0RK3

Entry Name: Scarisbrick Park holy well

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1977

Last Amended: 9 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009493

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23745

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Scarisbrick

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Scarisbrick St Mark

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool


The monument includes a medieval holy well located on the east side of
Southport Road a short distance north of Scarisbrick Park wayside cross, with
which it is presumably associated, at what was originally the edge of
Scarisbrick Park. The well comprises a natural spring covered by a partly
mutilated roughly shaped oval capping stone, on which a small floriated cross
has been cut. This cross is square with the points of the compass. Prior to
the erection of the park wall the well was accessible from both the road and
the medieval wayside cross for the benefit of wayfarers.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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
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 effect 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 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, or larger buildings,
decorated in the prevailing architectural style and facilitating access with
features such as steps to the water source and open areas with stone benching
where visitors might shelter. At their most elaborate, chapels, and sometimes
churches, may have been built over the well or adjacent well house. The number
of holy wells is not known but estimates suggest at least 600 nationally. They
provide important information on the nature of religious beliefs and practices
and on the relationship between religion and the landscape during the medieval

Scarisbrick Park holy well survives reasonably well and is a good example of a
simple form of this class of monument. It is a rare surviving example in
Lancashire of a holy well associated with a medieval wayside cross.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Taylor, H, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, (1906), 131-2
Bond, C.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Holy Wells, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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