St Farmin's Well


This project aimed to restore this historic well which is located on an important local path from Gilmonby Bridge to the site of the old Bowes Mill. It consisted of a semicircular dry-stone cistern about 12" deep, bottomed with a single flat stone slab, complete with cast-iron overflow pipe and some further stonework out in front. Preliminary investigations had been carried out and the proposal included fuller archaeological exploration, restoration of stonework and redirection of the water supply back to the well. The full story of the well, and its religious associations with St Farmin (or St Fermin, a saint rarely mentioned in English topography), is unknown but excavation may reveal more of its presumed medieval, and possibly much earlier significance.

Work was undertaken in Spring 2012 to establish the source of water supply which uncovered a stone basin at the base of a cliff. Further excavation was then undertaken under archaeological supervision. The final report suggests that the two 'well' features were there  to catch spring water emerging from the cliff face.  The basin at the foot of the cliff appears to have naturally silted up and covered by soil slip , rather than by any intention to abandon and back fill it. The following was taken from the final report.

'The single piece of ceramic building material found in the feature is most likely Roman, but along with the large amphora fragment is most easily explained by Roman rubbish deposits at the top of the slope and due south of the Fort and Vicus eroding down the hill. The one point of note is that the form of the amphora suggests a date in the late 1st or early secondary century for occupation on the site. It seems likely that the first feature at the base of the cliff is the earlier of the two and that the second, circular cistern was added to provide a means of watering horses travelling back and forth to the Bowes corn mill a short distance upstream.'

The photo is of a base fragment of a Dressel 2-4 amphora, an unstratified and singular find from the site.

This project is now complete



Project Photos