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Katherine's 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: Katherine's Well

List entry Number: 1020826

Location

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

County: Somerset

District: West Somerset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Selworthy

National Park: EXMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 16-Oct-2002

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: 35329

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.

The stone structure of Katherine's Well in Selworthy Plantation is well-preserved and in a stable condition. It is a good example of its class of monument and is sited in a highly visible location adjacent to a waymarked footpath popular with walkers. Katherine's Well has attracted visitors continuously since its foundation which is believed to have been, at the latest, during the medieval period.

History

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

Details

The monument includes Katherine's Well, a holy well located on a south facing slope towards the southern edge of Selworthy Plantation. The well head, which is believed to be of medieval date, covers a spring which flows constantly to join Aller Brook to the south. It is formed by a structure of large stone slabs, some up to 1m across, arranged around the water source. This structure is 4m wide and 3.5m downslope from the top to the bottom, and has a small, near-circular well of approximately 1m in diameter located near the centre. A small bridge-like structure constructed of rough stone is located just above the circular well and across the spring. The wooden marker board bearing the name `Catherine's Well' is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Horne, E, Somerset Holy Wells, (1923), 52
Other
SS 94 NW 5, National Monuments Record,

National Grid Reference: SS 91425 46897

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 - 1020826 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 23-Nov-2017 at 06:44:49.

End of official listing