Medieval well uncovered in field

Rainhill Civic Society and Merseyside Archaeological Society at St Anne's Well
Rainhill Civic Society and Merseyside Archaeological Society at St Anne's Well

A medieval well has been uncovered following excavation work in a field.

St Anne’s Well was discovered, hidden underneath a field in Rainhill, by experts from Oxford Archaeology North after funding was granted for an excavation from Historic England.

After two days of careful digging, the experts uncovered the two by two metre well. Three steps lead down to a pool of water where medieval pilgrims submerged themselves, hoping to be healed.

Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Projects Officer Tamsin Cooke said: “We are delighted to have worked with the farmer to ensure this important holy well survives long in to the future. It’s a remarkable transformation from this time last year.

“No-one was more surprised by what was found than the farmer as the well had been hidden for as long as he was at the farm.

“A local legend suggests St Anne’s Well was associated with a nearby priory, lost during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Whether or not this is true, holy wells were a big part of Christianity in the Middle Ages.

“St Anne’s Well continued to be revered even after the dissolution, and by the 19th century it was even thought to cure eye diseases.”

Having uncovered the well, the next step was to protect it for the future. Historic England funded repairs to replace stones which had fallen in to the well over the years.

The farmer will be making sure weeds don’t encroach and new wooden edging to the perimeter of the excavation will prevent soil falling in and provide a buffer to protect the well from damage by farm machinery.

St Anne’s Well is on private land, but the farmer kindly allowed members of Rainhill Civic Society and Merseyside Archaeological Society to visit the newly repaired well with Historic England.

The Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Heritage at Risk Projects Officer led a the group visit in early October.