The Fairy Well, Calderwood Glen

c1900 Drinking at The Fairy Well

c1900 Drinking at The Fairy Well

The area of Calderwood Glen continues to fascinate me. Whilst only half the glen is in Blantyre Parish, there are lots of interesting features and stories to be told for this area as a whole.

On a path on the opposite bank of the River Calder from the Hermitage building was a small natural spring, above which, on a large slab of stone was carved a poem, a sort of warning to ne’er do wells. This was known as “The Fairy Well”. Only those with a clear conscience could drink from this well according to the rhyme, which was as follows:

If thy Spirit is pure as this crystal spring

stranger! Drink its waters fearlessly fling

the tiny cup in the bright fairy well

its magic, for thee has no fatal spell

but, enchantment falls on all around

above — below — ’tis hallowed ground

And truth lies hid in this mystic well

c1900 The Fairy Well, Calderwood Glen

c1900 The Fairy Well, Calderwood Glen

with pow’r each secret thought to tell

then praise! Stranger praise! For if evil dwell

in thy heart — dare not quaft.

The poem was originally carved into flat stones at the Fairy Well, but unfortunately slid into the Calder at an unknown date. There are 2 excellent photos of The Fairy Well. Both perhaps dating to the 1890’s or around 1900. The first showing the vertical rocks where the poem was carved and the second showing a woman “of clear conscience” drinking from the well, using a tin cup that was chained to the well.

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  1. The hermit’s gravestone by the riverbank fell into the river and had to be hoisted back up by forresters when occupied by the SCWS. The book from 1905 differs in that the description of the gravestone poem is slightly different. This may be because they were recalling the poem wrong, or that the earlier stone fell and could not be retrieved, thus the later stone. The first reason seems more likely as the SCWS poem is not a suitable version. The above stone however does not appear to have fell into the river. There is a good chance it is still at the well site but buried. People report that it was there in the 60’s before the landslide. Probably just a case of digging it up. Unless someone else already has and nicked it. Something I will be investigating this summer!
    the well pic with woman drinking is about 1900 and the well pic is 1904.

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