1886 - Redfern, Francis - History and Antiquities of Town of Uttoxeter (2)

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Date 1886
Author Redfern, Francis
Title History and Antiquities of the Town and Neighbourhood of Uttoxeter, with Notices of Adjoining Places
Mentions Maiden's Well (Uttoxeter); Maid Marian
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Maiden Well, Uttoxeter.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2020-10-18. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-17.


[... an] interesting well, which is situated close to the road side on the High Wood, a little south of Balance Hill tollgate, on the left hand side, has the name of Maiden's Well, Maiden's Wall Well, and Marian's Well. I have previously attempted, when speaking of Roman ways, to show how it may have acquired the name of Maiden's Well. At the same time the name may be a corruption from Mai-din, a British word applied to a fort. It appears to have been notorious in Saxon times, from the Saxons having given it the name of Wall Well from the Latin, vallum, a wall. The well is now enclosed in a field, but formerly it was evidently open to the road, and a wide space of the bank side of the land has been removed on its account, and although this escarpment round or along the back of the well is much worn and broken, it [p. 348:] may have formed the vallum or wall, from which Wall Well is derived. From the great celebrity of the well, the floral festivity of the Maid, Marian, the wife of Robin Hood, has probably been celebrated at it, from which circumstance it would readily and naturally receive the distinction of Marian's Well.

 Road side wells were particularly appreciated in Saxon days. Travelling being difficult and tedious, and there existing no houses of refreshment, way-side wells were of great importance and convenience. This was so much the case that Edwin, King of Northumbria, A.D. 628, had stakes driven down at them and a brazen dish affixed thereto with a chain, so that the fatigued way-farer might be enabled to refresh himself.

 The waters of this well have always had a great reputation for their supposed healing virtues; and the grandfather of an aged female whom I knew, wished in his dying moments to have a bottle of water from it to drink, on account of its remarkable properties ; so that its fame remained great until less than a hundred years back, although, perhaps, not six persons at this time, except by this account, know anything about it. But what is remarkable respecting it is, that it was believed to be haunted by the ghost of a handsome young lady, on account of which people were much afraid of going past it at night — a superstition originating, probably, in a former belief of the well having been inhabited by spirits, there being superstitious beliefs of this kind in Scotland at this day.[1]

Source notes

IRHB's brackets. The corresponding passage in the first edition of Redfern's work is slightly shorter and does not interpret 'Marian' as 'Maid Marian', see 1865 - Redfern, Francis - History of Town of Uttoxeter (2).

IRHB comments

For discussion of the locality and place-name, see Maiden's Well (Uttoxeter).



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