Archaeologists excavate a ‘cursed’ medieval well in England

An ancient well which once was famed to wash away sins and later became a site of a curse has been unearthed in England. Bathing in the water of the well was believed to wash away one’s sins and also heal skin and eye diseases. However, it also had an occult background and records indicate a strange death occurred there.

The St. Anne’s Well was located in the lands of a private farm on the borders of Rainhill and St Helens townships near Liverpool, UK. The excavation was commissioned by Historic England Heritage as the well was filled with earth due to farming activities. The well was not discernable on giving a cursory look but became visible after the excavation commenced and was found in good condition according to Jamie Quartermaine, an archaeologist who supervised the excavation work.

The well itself was built with local sandstone with steps leading to the bottom of the well. The material of the well is probably of medieval times, and according to Jamie, it was a late medieval foundation as the cult of St. Anne which was not much practised until the end of the 14th century.

The knowledge of the history of the well is necessary because some healing wells with medicinal properties were assumed to invent in antiquaries especially in the 19th century. The pool itself was about four feet, and water seeped from the floor below.

The well was attached to a nearby monastery and was attended by 12 monks but was destroyed under the purges carried by Henry VIII and his draconian rule. In popular culture, the story goes that St. Anne Well had healing power and anyone who bathed in the waters got rid of his/her skin and eye ailments. The monks of the monastery also had a steady source of income and a small three room structure was also constructed for the welfare of an ever increasing number of pilgrims who were swarming to the well for respite from their ailments.

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