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Medieval Cursed Well of Cult of Saint Anne Excavated

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posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:00 PM

According to the Christian and Islamic faiths, Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary and both religions have a long tradition of venerating both women. In the Christian faith, the cult of Saint Anne dates to the earliest centuries of the religion and is closely linked to the cult of the Virgin Mary. In this context, cult refers to groups within the Christian religion who express a unique devotion to a particular religious figure. Expressions of this devotion are typically in the form of prayers, art, shrines, churches, etc.

For a time in Great Britain, healing wells dedicated to saints were a big thing and Saint Anne was by far the most popular saint associated with them. This particular well, which lies between the townships of Rainhill and Sutton St. Helens (near Liverpool), likely dates to sometime in the late 14th or 15th century. According to archaeologist Jamie Quartermaine (which is a pretty kickass surname for an archaeologist), the cult of Saint Anne wasn't widespread in England until the late 14th century and local stories link it to a nearby priory that was shutdown during the reign of Henry VIII, which began in 1509.

Like others of its type, the well, which is built over a shallow spring, consisted of a stone pool and steps that would have allowed pilgrims to step down into a shallow pool which was thought to have curative powers. The well is about six and half feet on each side and four feet deep. The water, believed to cure afflictions of the eyes and skin, would have risen through the well's floor from the spring beneath.

The story behind this well is fascinating. The local lore holds that Saint Anne — the grandmother of Jesus mind you — had bathed in that very spring. Did I mentioned that it was cursed?

The legend of the well was published in 1877, in the St. Helens Leader. I'll turn to a story by Alicia McDermott at Ancient Origins for its retelling:

Holy Yet Cursed Medieval Well Unearthed in England

Local folklore states that the steward of a neighboring landowner named Hugh Darcy argued with the prior, Father Delwaney, about access to the well and land boundaries. The two men got into a heated argument at which point Darcy apparently told Delwaney that the prior would likely not hold his important position much longer, before stomping back toward his master’s estate.

Soon thereafter the monks were apparently removed from the priory by the king’s men. On their way out they passed by the holy well where Father Delwaney saw Hugh Darcy (who seemed to be awaiting them and to have had an “understanding” with the commissioners taking the monks away). The prior was angered by Darcy’s appearance and possible role in the loss of the monastery and he said: “The curse of the serpent be on thee, thou spoiler of the Lord’s inheritance, thy ill-gotten gains shall not profit thee, and a year and a day shall not pass ere St. Anne thy head shall bruise.” Not long after placing this curse on Darcy, the prior fainted and then died.

The story continues by saying that Darcy wasted no time in gaining access to the farmlands around the holy well and tearing down the building made for the pilgrims who visited it. Although things seemed to be going smoothly at first Darcy “could not get rid of the strange foreboding of coming evil.” Three months later his son died of a mysterious illness and soon after he suffered heavy financial loss. The legend ends with Darcy disappearing after a night of drinking. His body was allegedly found beside the well where his head was crushed in.

Now that's a damn fine cursed well story.

An image of the account in the St. Helens Leader can be viewed in this PDF. In spite of the reputed curse and the dissolution of the priory, the well continued to be used up until the 19th century. At some point the well was ploughed over because you know, farming. The general location of the well had been known to the property owner and local archaeologists since the 80's but it took the team of researchers from Historic England Heritage and supervising archaeologist, Jamie Quartermaine, a little hunting to find. This is what the site, dubbed (creatively) St. Anne's Well, looked like before it was excavated:

A protective wooden barrier is to be constructed around the site to protect it from future assaults by deranged ploughs.

Additional sources / Image sources:

Scient Alert - Archaeologists have uncovered a 'cursed' well in England
Seeker - 'Cursed' Medieval Well Found in England
edit on 2016-11-11 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:20 PM
I'm a bit of an Anglophile so this is very interesting to me. Did they ever find out how Darcy got his head smashed in? A medieval Negan perhaps? Lol

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:24 PM
a reply to: PorteurDeMort


posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:29 PM
a reply to: theantediluvian

Must be a Catholic legend / lore thing. Never heard of Anne mother of Mary ever.
edit on 11-11-2016 by infolurker because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:33 PM
This is new to me too. I never heard of this before.

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:39 PM
a reply to: theantediluvian

This particular well, which lies between the townships of Rainhill and Sutton St. Helens (near Liverpool), likely dates to sometime in the late 14th or 15th century.

This makes sense in view of the fact that Mariolatry came to prominence around the same time.

. Some Marian art was specifically produced to decorate the Marian churches built in this period. Major Italian artist with Marian motifs include: Fra Angelico, Donatello, Sandro Botticelli, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Piero di Cosimo Paolo Uccello Antonello da Messina Andrea Mantegna, Piero della Francesca and Carlo Crivelli. Dutch and German artists with Marian paintings include: Jean Bellegambe, Hieronymus Bosch, Petrus Christus, Gerard David (c.1455–1523), Hubert van Eyck, Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Quentin Matsys, Rogier van der Weyden, Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Baldung and Albrecht Dürer. French and Spanish artists with Marian paintings include: Jean Fouquet, Jean Clouet, François Clouet, Barthélemy d'Eyck, Jean Hey (formerly known as the Master of Moulins), Bartolomé Bermejo, Ayne Bru, Juan de Flandes, Jaume Huguet, Paolo da San Leocadio. Francis of Assisi is credited with setting up the first known presepio or crèche (Nativity scene). He was also particularly devoted to Christ's passion and crucifixion.[19] The influence of the Franciscans gave rise to a more affective spirituality. Around the time of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 many Orthodox monks fled to the West, bringing with them traditions of iconography. Depictions of the Madonna and Child can be traced to the Eastern Theotokos.

Ps. it's good to see that you write some damn good stuff non politically motivated

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:41 PM
a reply to: infolurker

the reference to Anne being the mother of Mary comes from the NT apocrypha

Saint Anne with Mary as a child. Although the canonical books of the New Testament never mention the parents of the Virgin Mary (Luke 3:23 names Mary's father as Heli), traditions about her family, childhood, education, and eventual betrothal to Joseph developed very early in the history of the church. The oldest and most influential source for these is the apocryphal Protevangelium of James, first written in Greek around the middle of the second century. In the West, the Protevangelium fell under a cloud in the fourth and fifth centuries when it was accused of "absurdities" by St. Jerome and condemned as untrustworthy by Popes Damasus I, Innocent I, and Gelasius I.[7]

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:42 PM
a reply to: infolurker

Attested to by mid-2nd century and later apocrypha and definitely a figure in Catholicism but I'm not certain about any other sects of Christianity.

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:45 PM
a reply to: theantediluvian

Ah man, I read your thread and some of the comments from my friends and had one of those chest-expanding inhales. Strong work. How interesting.


posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 10:48 PM
a reply to: PorteurDeMort

He had it coming....

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 11:14 PM
a reply to: theantediluvian

The cult of St. Anne, contrary to the story in the OP, was widespread and early in Cornwall and in the Mendips. There are records in the British Museum that indicate Anne the grandmother of Jesus was born in Cornwall among the Jewish tin merchants who had an old and enduring community in Cornwall and the Mendips in Somerset.

posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 11:28 PM
a reply to: Kapriti

Got a source for that?

posted on Nov, 12 2016 @ 02:45 AM
a reply to: theantediluvian

This is true, there were plenty of wells dedicated to Saint Anne, for example;

Saint Anne's well Inglewhite

Saint Anne's well Caversham

Not surprisingly there are also plenty of Holy wells around Saint Anne's on the Fylde, Lancashire;

A newspaper columnist in the last century wrote that a well or spring with this dedication once existed near Penwortham Church. It was certainly not in use in 1883 as in that year, a Canon of the church is quoted as saying that Saint Mary's Well was the only supply of fresh, clean water available to the population of Penwortham. There is, however, a map which shows a well with this dedication on the opposite bank of the Ribble from the church - in other words, in Preston, in the area now concreted over by the docks. If the map is correct, this well could be the 'Spaw Baths' mentioned earlier, or a completely different one.

Holy Wells in and around Preston

I knew of some of these because some are still in religious use, the derivation of Anne is Hannah, were the Hittite Mother Earth Goddess was Hannahannah, from Hittite hanna- "grandmother".

There are equally many wells dedicated to Saint Helen, for example;

Wells of Saint Helen

Were Helen is derivative of Alauna from the Romano-Celtic and Allani of the Hurrians as i noted here, the wells dedicated to Mary have more in common with the cult of purity of Isharah, i suppose all these wells could be considered cursed in that their former importance is now forgotten and they are neglected, or perhaps it is simply the people that are cursed.

It's the case then that you have a Christian veneer over Romano-Celtic Deities which trace back to their Indo-European point of origin in the Near East.
edit on Kam1130316vAmerica/ChicagoSaturday1230 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 12 2016 @ 05:43 AM
a reply to: theantediluvian


posted on Nov, 13 2016 @ 10:04 PM
a reply to: Kantzveldt

i suppose all these wells could be considered cursed in that their former importance is now forgotten and they are neglected, or perhaps it is simply the people that are cursed.

Its only the one specific "st anne's well" mentioned in the OP, with a very specific story explaining why its cursed, also mentioned in the OP.

If you were referring to another seperate reason why "these wells" might, in general, be considered cursed, then I apologise for being redundant.

posted on Nov, 16 2016 @ 08:49 PM
All the gals in my mums side have ANNE in their name after St Anne.

S and F.

Curative powers have long been associated with water. Adding Anne to it, would be a way of allowing a pagan practice to continue, much like so many other practices that were given a Christian whitewash to sustain it as an acceptable practice. But that's whole other thread

posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 03:18 PM
Excellent thread and topic, a gem nowadays it seems.
So was Jesus' grandma a Liverpudlian then?

posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 03:47 PM
Im LOVING your threads recently!!! THANK YOU!!!

I am a vehement "disliker" of Catholicism.. but in order to dislike it, I had to know it. Know thy enemy and all of that jazz. I have .. somewhere.. a rare first edition book called "Mariology" or similar .. but I like the other posters name for it : Mariolatry. LOL! In any case, as I recall it did mention Anne of David's house... and Martin Luther calling/praying to her. I can not for the life of me recall what the book is filed under or Id at the very least post what was said in the book concerning her.

I have also seen Eastern Orthodox Icons with Anne or Hannah.. and the virgin Mary and child, Jesus. Im a finder and collector of interesting things, so naturally I love carnival gaffs and religious relics.. of different classes. I dont own one of Anne.. but its always nice to brush up on your body parts and how they came to be relics.. fake ones even.

Here for informational purposes only. Its annoying, but its pretty factual as far as the relics discovered.. mysteriously.

posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 04:03 PM

This isn't too far from where I live.

I might go check it out some time, take some pictures and stuff.

posted on Nov, 17 2016 @ 10:14 PM
a reply to: theantediluvian

Interesting story. I don't think St. Ann, Jesus, mother ever traveled to England. Not saying they didn't venerate her there, but their is also another St. Anne who was martyred in England. She might be the one these well builders were honoring.

Saint Anne Line

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