St Rumon's Well, 16m north of church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015144

Date first listed: 31-Jan-1997


Ordnance survey map of St Rumon's Well, 16m north of church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: North Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Romansleigh

National Grid Reference: SS 72727 20612


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 day. 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 period.

Despite part restoration of the building covering the well, St Rumon's Well survives comparatively well and contains both architectural and archaeological information concerning this frequently visited monument.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


This monument includes a baptismal stone-lined holy well housed within a small stone built rectangular building, with steps leading both to the entrance and into the well itself. The monument lies 16.05m north of the church, just beyond the northern periphery of the churchyard boundary at Romansleigh, and at the end of a public footpath into the village. The building which covers the well is rectangular in shape and measures 2.28m long by 2.1m wide and is 1.21m high. It is stone built and covered with large capstones. The entrance to the well is on the western side of the building and measures 0.91m wide. Access is via a footpath which leads right around the building and has some steps leading into the well itself. The well is stone lined, has a diameter of 1m and still contains water. The well was reconsecrated to enable baptism of local children in living memory. It is dedicated to St Rumon. There are no traces of medieval decorative stonework, and the building was thought to have been partly restored during the mid- twentieth century, but it is of medieval origin. The well is surrounded to the south, west and north by land boundaries. To the south is the churchyard bank 0.75m wide by 1.25m high. Some slippage has occurred onto the southern part of the building from this bank, since the churchyard bank is higher than the well building. To the west, the boundary marks the western edge of the footpath to the well entrance. It is 0.75m wide and up to 1.1m high. This bank curves around to the north where it maintains its width but decreases in height to 0.7m. The path surrounding the well is 1m wide; it leads from the well entrance to a hollow way on its eastern side which measures 1.7m wide and up to 1.1m deep. This leads into the village of Romansleigh, and represents the part remains of a much longer trackway from local farms to the village. Although there is now an entrance into the churchyard from this path, just east of the well building, this is a recent addition.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 28602

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Cherry, B, The Buildings of England: Devon, (1989), 703
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS72SW5, (1990)
Information from Mr D.J. Tucker, (1995)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1995)

End of official listing