We all take water for granted as it flows from the tap, but it is only a generation back that our grandparents had to draw water from a well.
In February 2000 an old well in the centre of Kirriemuir, situated in Cumberland Close between Visocchi’s ice cream factory and the craft shops, was opened up for the first time in many years having been buried under the old Regal Cinema.
It is cleverly constructed of Old Red Sandstone, not squared or faced, laid dry, with no mortar or clay. An example of a lost art of the masons of long ago.
The well width is 30 inches and the well depth is 13 feet below ground level with the water eight feet deep, so it is only five feet down to the water from ground level.
The well is now capped. Three water samples were taken for testing back then – all three samples passed the test. This would at one time have been the town’s major source of drinking water, but many may not know that it is still in use today, as the water which flows down the ‘Circle of Time’ memorial. The Northmuir well was still in use until 1930. Sadly the once famous Cuttle Well in the Den has lost its former glory in recent days, with a recent landslip causing untold damage.
There are many places in Angus which recall the importance of the wells, such as the many place names of ‘Welton’ found throughout the county. No settlement would be built without first having a good well for a reliable source of water.
Also in Kirriemuir the Mary Well, now recalled in the street name Marywell Brae, was not the only St Mary’s Well in the area; there is another still flowing at the top of the Gallow Path, near Oathlaw. The wells in Glamis still exist today and the old pumps can be seen opposite the new castle gates. We all know of the Ninewells in Dundee, but near the dovecot at Glamis in the castle park is the Nine Maidens’ Well, beside which was a chapel bearing their name.
But, how many Forfarians can point to or know of the location of the ‘Nine Maidens’ Well’ in Craig O’ Loch Road today?
It is said a chapel at Abernethan north of Kirriemuir near Kinnordy was dependent on the parish church and saintly Abernethan Well can still be seen there within a small building at the foot of the Meams Brae. When the east wing of Inverquharity Castle was being rebuilt a very old well was discovered. It has a bottle shaped base and is an amazing piece of construction, which tells of the lost ability in the art of stone masonry.
The well of Corryvannoch near Mount Blair, Glenisla, attracted crowds in bygone days on the first Sunday in May. Coins and trinkets were showered into the well because of the widespread belief in the healing qualities of the water. Children brought to the well were cured of scrofula, scabies and rickets. The water was splashed upon them; the earlier they were treated the more effective was the water. Strathpeffer, Crieff and Harrogate in England made more effective use of railway advertising to “take the waters” and I fear Glenisla has missed the boat in terms of being a spa resort.