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Altarnun Holy Well


A holy well can be found at Altarnun dedicated to Saint Non (also known as Nonna or Nonnita), along with a nearby church. As with many ancient wells, this one is reputed to have healing properties, this time madness.


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Ian Topham
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Re: Altarnun Holy Well

In the parish of Altarnum or Alternon, there is a well dedicated in honour of St. Nonna, who is said to have been the daughter of an Earl of Cornwall, and mother of St. David, whose waters were supposed to have the power of curing madness; and according to Carew and Borlase the process was as follows: The water running from this sacred well was conducted to a small square enclosure closely walled in on every side, and might be filled at any depth, as the case required. The frantic person was placed on the wall, with his back to the water; without being permitted to know what was going to be done, he was knocked backwards into the water, by a violent blow on the chest, when he was tumbled about in a most unmerciful manner, until fatigue had subdued the rage which unmerited violence had occasioned. Reduced by ill-usage to a degree of weakness which ignorance mistook for returning sanity, the patient was conveyed to church with much solemnity, where certain Masses were said for him. If after this treatment he recovered, St. Nun had all the praise; but in case he remained the same, the experiment was repeated so often as any hope of life or recovery was left. The mystic properties of this well have been transferred by the vulgar to the Pixies, whose goodwill is obtained by an offering of a pin.
[The Legendary Lore Of The Holy Wells Of England by Robert Charles Hope (1893)]



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