Keys to the Past

Lady's Well, Holystone (Harbottle)

Lady's Well at Holystone, Harbottle. Photo by Northumberland County Council.
Lady's Well at Holystone, Harbottle. Photo by Northumberland County Council.

Lady's Well is a stone water tank of possible Roman date, fed by a natural spring. The well is alongside the Roman road between High Rochester and the River Aln. The stone tank has been completely rebuilt at least once since the Roman period. The well has been a Christian holy site since the medieval period, and may have been the site of early Christian rituals. An alternative name for the well is `Ninian's Well'. Ninian was the Bishop of Whithorn, in south-west Scotland, from AD500-550. It is possible that Ninian visited Holystone, although we have no evidence for such a visit. There is a legend that Paulinus, an early Christian missionary from Italy, converted 3000 people at the well during Easter AD627. In the medieval period, there was an Augustinian convent at Holystone, which may be where the name 'Lady's Well' comes from. In addition to the tank, a 15th century statue, said to be of Paulinus, was brought to the site from Alnwick in 1780. The statue was moved from the centre of the tank in the 19th century and replaced with a wheel cross. Local tradition says an altar-shaped stone near the well is the 'holy' stone, which gives the local village its name. The Lady's Well is a Scheduled Monument and Grade I Listed Building protected by law.

Reference number:N1209
Historical period: Roman (43 to 410)
Early Medieval (410 to 1066)
Post Medieval (1540 to 1901)
Medieval (1066 to 1540)
Legal status:Listed Building
Scheduled Ancient Monument
Event(s):FIELD SURVEY, Lady's Well, Northumbria Region 1988; THE NATIONAL TRUST

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See also:
Source of Reference
Local History of Harbottle


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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.