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A Sacred Well In the Borderlands

This extraordinary fellow is part of a holy well - or sacred spring - tucked away deep in the Herefordshire borderlands. It is known as St Peter's Well, and unsurprisingly it is situated close to the village of Peterchurch.

There were once three natural springs here that all fed into a pool where local people would bathe, believing the chilly waters to have curative properties related to eyesight and skin conditions. The smaller two were capped off and all the water diverted through the head, before the pool itself was eventually covered and piped into a little pumping station.

The site looks terrible, but "Peter" is still doing his job, set within a half-hidden grotto down some steps. Locals say only that the head is "Celtic" and predates any written history. The only mention of him that I could find was in Ella Leather's classic The Folklore of Herefordshire from 1912, with a picture of the square-jawed fellow devoid of moss. The head does have a slight Roman air about it, so perhaps this was a Britonic sacred place appropriated by them? I don't think it's an old gargoyle, it's too square.

St Peter's Well is one of many such sacred water sources around West Herefordshire, reminding us what a fascinating and mysterious area it is.

I take a journey across Herefordshire in my book The Mystery Of Mercia II, available now at the link in the comments.

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