045 Stone, St. Anthony's Well, Edinburgh.
It's not St. Anthony's Well itself that is of interest here but
rather the massive capping stone located above and behind the
carved stone basin that forms the outflow from the well. This
recumbent stone measures 2.20m long x 1.50m wide x approx. 0.50m
in height and is raised above the well by some stonework which
is just visible under the stone.
Holyrood Park is located to the west of Edinburgh city centre and
a city street plan is recommended for finding this location. St.
Anthony's Well and it's associated stone can be easily reached on
foot from St. Margaret's Loch. The well is located a short
distance up hill, on the footpath leading to the ruins of St.
Anthony's Chapel, at the south west end of St. Margaret's Loch.
A number of spaces are available around St. Margaret's Loch in
Holyrood Park. Various other parking areas are also situated in
The well is dedicated to St. Anthony, a Christian saint
and is traditionally known as a healing well, where pilgrims
would visit on the pagan festival of Beltane to wash their
faces. This ritual has been recorded until quite recent
times. It has been said that a monk was stationed nearby to
tend the well and various ruins may be seen in the area that
give credence to this suggestion.
While the purpose of this large boulder appears to be to protect
St. Anthony's Well, perhaps from erosion by the many visitors to
the area, I do wonder if it has, or held, some other purpose.
The stone is raised on a bed of mortared stonework and sits
above and just to the rear of the carved stone basin that holds
the water from the well itself - at the time of visit, the well
was actually dry. One point of interest is that Fairies Knowe is
an alternative name for Whinny Hill, situated to the south west
of the well. Wells and large stones as often associated with
these small deities in pre-Christian times and were often places
of pagan worship. I am always looking for reasons for the
existence of stones such as this. Did it mark a scared spot or
well prior to evolving into the structure we see today? After
all, it was no means feat to raise the stone into it's current
position! I am sure further information on this mysterious stone
(and the well) will come to light.