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Tawstock holy well

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Tawstock holy well

List entry Number: 1016207

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: North Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Tawstock

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 24-Oct-1997

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 30310

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

Tawstock holy well survives comparatively well and contains both architectural and archaeological information about its construction and use.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a medieval holy well housed within a 20th century well building. It lies in a small valley to the east of Tawstock and survives as a sub-rectangular well recess which measures 1.7m long by 1.4m wide and 1.2m high. The well is full of clear water which issues into a ditch at the front. Evidence of mortar, corbelling and rough walling is also visible, with a possible lintel. Around this grotto-like structure a 20th century building has been constructed. This is revetted into the hillside and has two retaining walls of 1.5m high abutting the building and running parallel to the hillside. The building has a pitched roof, is stone built and has the inscription `Holy Well, Tawstock. Restored 1938 A.B.S.W.'. There is an iron gate across the entrance to prevent access. A holy well was recorded at Tawstock in 1390. The 20th century well building, which is Listed Grade II, is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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.

Selected Sources

Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS52NE2, (1991)

National Grid Reference: SS 55255 29835

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016207 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 24-Nov-2017 at 09:35:01.

End of official listing