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St Anthony's Well, Edinburgh


Prior to 1674 St Anthony’s Well flowed from beneath a small stone arch in a slightly higher position to the bolder from under which it now sprouts. It was probably connected to the nearby 15th century St Anthony’s Chapel which is now a ruin.  The following witness account of devotion and belief in the healing properties of St Anthony’s Well appeared in The Antiquary Volume 26 (1892).

‘To an incident which showed that the faith and belief in the healing virtues of the wells is still strong, the writer was but a few months ago an eye-witness. While walking in the Queen's Park about sunset, I casually passed St. Anthony's Well, and had my attention attracted by the number of people about it, all simply quenching their thirst, some possibly with a dim idea that they would reap some benefit from the draught. Standing a little apart, however, and evidently patiently waiting a favourable moment to present itself for their purpose, was a group of four. Feeling somewhat curious as to their intention, I quietly kept myself in the background, and by and by was rewarded. The crowd departed, and the group came forward, consisting of two old women, a younger woman of about thirty, and a pale, sickly-looking girl a child of three or four years old. Producing cups from their pockets, the old women dipped them in the pool, filled them, and drank the contents. A full cup was then presented to the younger woman, and another to the child. Then one of the old women produced a long linen bandage, dipped it in the water, wrung it, dipped it in again, and then wound it round the child's head, covering the eyes, the youngest woman, evidently the mother of the child, carefully observing the operation, and weeping gently all the time. The other old woman not engaged in this work was carefully filling a clear flat glass bottle with the water, evidently for future use. Then, after the principal operators had looked at each other with an earnest and half-solemn sort of look, the party wended its way carefully down the hill.’


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