Culvers Well – a sacred site?

Now that this land has been cleared of pine trees, this feature is at last exposed to view.  It is some two hundred metres to the south-east and downhill of the barrow on Culverswell Hill.  The water’s main body is a shallow pond separated by an earth dam from a smaller upper pond.  The water level in the upper pond is some centimetres higher than the main pond and is presumably the spring source.  In the photograph below the spring is not visible to the top left of the water.

Culvers Well with the barrow in the centre of the horizon

In the centre of the photograph below the dam can be seen, and my first thoughts were that the larger pond was constructed as a cattle pond at some unknown time in the distant past, fed by the overflow from the spring.  Probing with a ranging rod gave a depth of about half a metre around the edge, but as I was on my own, I was reluctant to try and wade in despite wearing wellingtons.

Culvers Well looking west towards the car park

I have been intrigued by the name of this spring; why give a name to something so obscure in a landscape devoid of habitation or occupation?  The oldest Ordnance Survey map I can find is the 1-2500 scale edition of 1871.  The title ‘Culvers Well’ is clearly shown and is seen in every edition since.  Presumably, it had some significance in the past.

When the nearby barrows were constructed there would have been peoples settled in the area, and this spring would have had great importance as their only source of fresh water.  It seems logical that it would have been venerated and protected, and it surely warrants being classed as sacred spring.


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