Ancient Monuments

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Holy well of St Cuby, 25m south west of Brookfield

A Scheduled Monument in Tregoney, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.2694 / 50°16'10"N

Longitude: -4.9091 / 4°54'32"W

OS Eastings: 192783.748578

OS Northings: 45101.048722

OS Grid: SW927451

Mapcode National: GBR ZP.V3RT

Mapcode Global: FRA 08LB.58Y

Entry Name: Holy well of St Cuby, 25m south west of Brookfield

Scheduled Date: 24 April 2002

Last Amended: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020892

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32952

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Tregoney

Built-Up Area: Tregony

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Tregony with St Cuby

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes the medieval holy well of St Cuby, situated on a
moderate south slope at the head of a small valley on the east side of
The well house, projecting from a bank 2m high on its north west side, has
a sub-square overall plan, measuring approximately 1.9m across and 1.8m
high externally. It is built of unmortared horizontally laid shillet
rubble (a local stone) and is corbelled, or laid with each successive
course of stones slightly overlapping the one below, rising to a capping
slab. The well chamber within is asymmetrical, the rounded rear corner on
the north west side extending beyond that on the south west side, and the
roof reaching its apex towards the front (ESE) side. The chamber measures
approximately 0.8m SSW-NNE by 1.3m WNW-ESE, and is up to 1m high above the
outside ground level. Its walling continues below ground level to form a
well shaft at least 0.5m deep. The well has a doorway on the ESE side,
0.8m wide and 0.9m high. This has a relatively recent iron lintel, and
remains of a door frame and fittings indicating the former position of a
timber door, again relatively recent, are also shown on an old photograph.
A notch in the stonework on the NNE side of the doorway is thought to have
been cut to accommodate a door.
An area in front of the well house, measuring approximately 1.5m east-west
by 1.4m north-south, contains remains of an associated pump. This area is
defined on the north and south sides by post-medieval walls 0.5m-1m wide
and 1m-1.5m high of horizontally laid shillet rubble (that on the south
side having a coping of vertically set slabs). Within this area is a
concrete or masonry post, 1.25m east of the well house and in front of the
south side of its doorway. This post is 0.25m square and 0.2m high. It is
recorded on the old photograph, which also shows a pump beside it against
the wall on the south of the well, suggesting it may have been used to
support receptacles for water pumped from the well.

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

The holy well of St Cuby, 25m south west of Brookfield survives well.
Despite evidence for partial rebuilding of the well house, the structure
remains substantially intact, and below-ground deposits associated with
the monument will survive. The related structures and components in front
of the well house represent unusual associations.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lane-Davies, A, Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1970), 56, 71
Meyrick, J, Holy Wells, (1982), 137-138
Sheppard, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Parochial Check-list of Antiquities, Cuby with Tregoney St James, , Vol. 7, (1968), 97
MS transcript of deeds, at RIC, Truro, Henderson, C, Calendar, Calendar, (1920)
SW 94 NW 14, NJA, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1977)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1880

Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1907

Source: Historic England

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