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Observations placeholder

Sacred geography – Picts – Springs and wells 02 - Ben Newe



Type of Spiritual Experience


Ben Newe is a large hill in Aberdeenshire.  At 565 metres, Ben Newe is a small hill, but being reasonably isolated it does have good views, which is why it was used as a triangulation point.  On the summit of Ben Newe, there is a large rock outcrop - incorporating a medieval well - and a trig point as well as a wooden seat.

The official description of it is as follows:

Organisation The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
NGR NJ 3817 1431
Latitude, Longitude 57.215349N, 3.025365W
There is an alleged holy well (a pool of rainwater) on the summit of Ben Newe. Macfarlane (W Macfarlane 1906-8) records that the well was renowned for its cures. Some years before 1866 (Name Book 1866) many pins were found in the well, and coins and charms were offered in recent years (W D Simpson 1942). The well may be the sacred place (the Celtic 'nemeton') preserved in the 'Newe' element of Ben Newe (W J Watson 1926).
Name Book 1866; W Macfarlane 1906-8; W J Watson 1926; W D Simpson 1942.
A rainwater well in a fold in the rock on the summit of Ben Newe at NJ 3817 1431. Offerings of coins are still made.
Surveyed at 1/2500
Visited by OS (N K B) 29 August 1968.
This well is situated at an altitude of 565m OD.
NMRS, MS/712/43.

A description of the experience

Paul Screeton – Quicksilver heritage

One reference to healing from a prehistoric site which struck me as significant is from an eighteenth-century manuscript, in which it is stated that a rock basin on Ben Newe, Strathdon, is 'renowned among the vulgar for marvellous cures; there is said to be a worm abiding in it, which, if alive when the patient comes, he or she will live; if dead they are condemned to die'.

Could this not be a garbled understanding that if the ley power is at the time active then healing occurs; if dormant then the patient receives no benefit and consequently dies?

From “The Legend of Perseus”. Volume 2 1895 By Edwin Sidney Hartland Chapter XI Sacred Wells and Trees

Ben Newe Well.
“There is a big rugged rock, says Rev Walter McGregor, on the top of Ben Newe in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. On the north side of this rock, under a projection, there is a small circular-shaped hollow which always contains water. Everyone that goes to the top of the hill must put some small object into it, and then take a draught of water off it. Unless this is done the traveller will not reach in life the foot of the hill.
I climbed the hill in June of 1890, and saw in the well several pins, a small bone, a pill-box, a piece of a flower, and a few other objects.”

From "Holy Wells" in Scotland by Russell Walker

....In other cases the result depended on the rising or falling of the ‘waters’ : " if they rise, convalescence follows; if otherwise, death." If a certain worm in a medicinal spring on the top of a hill in the parish of Strathdon (Ben Newe) were found alive, it argued the survivance of a patient: and in a well of Ardnacloich, in Appin, the patient, " if he bee to dye, shall find a dead worme therein ; or a quick one, if health bee to follow."
The witching hour of midnight was also regarded as a favourable time to approach some of the wells.


The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps