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Archaeology, folklore & myth of Britain's pre-christian sites & heritage: stone circles, holy wells, maypoles, tombs, archaic cosmologies and human consciousness. Everyone welcome - even Southerners!


    Saint Helen's Well, Brindle, Lancashire (SD 587 224)

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    Saint Helen's Well, Brindle, Lancashire (SD 587 224)

    Post  Guest on Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:21 pm

    St, Helen's Well, Brindle, Lancashire.The well stood at SD 587 224, the Celitic cross memorial stands at SD 585 225.

    Drawings & photo’s of well in: Henry Taylor ‘THE ANCIENT CROSSES AND HOLY WELLS OF LANCASHIRE’ revised edition, 2007, Vol. VI LEYLAND HUNDRED, NW Catholic History Society. ISBN 0-9541667-7-9




    A footpath leads from Denham Hill down to the M 61 at Whittle Spinney. This path once led to St. Helen’s Well, a very ancient spring. The building of the M 61 in 1968 destroyed the well and associated buildings. In 2003 the well was commemorated by the erection of a Celtic cross in nearby Whittle Spinney. The well had its hereditary guardians, the Gerards of the Well, who lived at St. Helen’s House that contained a Catholic chapel.

    'Over against Swansey house, a little towards the hill, standeth an ancient fabric once the manor-house of Brindle (St. Helen’s House), where hath been a chapel belonging to the same, and a little above it a spring of very clear water, rushing straight upward into the midst of a fair fountain, walled square about in stone and flagged in the bottom, very transparent to be seen, and a strong stream issuing out of the same. This fountain is called St. Helen's well, to which the vulgar neighbouring people of the Red Letter (Roman Catholics) do much resort with pretended devotion in each year upon St. Helen's day, where and when out of a foolish ceremony they offer or throw into the well pins which there being left may be seen a long time after by any visitor of that fountain'; Kuerden in Baines’ History of Lancashire. (ed. 1836), iii, 497.

    Saint Helen, known in Welsh tradition as Elen Luyddog (Helen the Warlike) was a late 4th century founder of churches in Wales and the North West who is remembered as a saint. Traditionally she is said to have been a daughter of the Romano-British ruler Octavius and the wife of Macsen or Magnus Clemens Maximus, Emperor in Britain, Gaul and Spain, where he died seeking imperial recognition in 388.

    Elen was mother of five, including a boy named Cystennin (or Custennin or Constantine), but she lived about sixty years later than Helena of Constantinople, the mother of Constantine the Great with whom she has, in times past, been confused. Together with her sons, Cystennin and Peblig, she is said to have introduced into Wales and the North West the Celtic form of monasticism from Gaul. Saint Gregory of Tours and Sulpicius Severus records that Maximus and Elen met Saint Martin of Tours while they were in Gaul. Her feast day is May 22.

    Elen's story is told in The Dream of Macsen Wledig, one of the tales associated with the Mabinogion. Welsh mythology remembers her as the daughter of a chieftain of north Wales named Eudaf or Eudwy, who probably lived somewhere near the Roman base of Segontium, now Caernarfon. She is remembered for having Macsen build roads across her country so that the soldiers could more easily defend it from attackers, thus earning her the name Elen Luyddog (Elen of the Hosts). Since many characters in these tales are thought to be Christianized reflections of older deities, it has been suggested that Elen reflects (along with Rhiannon, etc.) a tradition of goddesses of sovereignty.

    The depositing of silver pins into sacred springs has its origins in Indo-European Shamanism.

    She is said to have ordered the making of Sarn Helen, the great Roman road running from Caernarfon to south Wales via Dolgellau, Pennal and Bremia (Llanddewi Brefi). Though this road bears her name it is considerably older than Elen's accepted time period. Many other Roman roads in Wales bear her name (e.g. Llwybr Elen) and she is thus acknowledged as the patron saint of British road builders and the protectress of travellers.


    Last edited by lowergate on Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:39 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : change SD)

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