|Yorkshire Holy Wells|
Wives' Well - Stape
Old Wives Well is located on the edge of a
tree plantation by the roadside to the north of Stape. A low grassy mound
covers a rough stone built chamber in which the spring water collects,
with the overflow seeping away in a run off channel. Originally the well was located
on open moorland, and an old photograph shows the well before the trees
were planted, (which must have affected the water level in the well to
Colin Coulson has drawn attention to the latin word 'natalis' meaning 'birth' and its link with the roman Festival 'Dies Natalis Sol Invictus' (day of the birth of the unconquered sun) which took place on the 25th December. Natalis also gave rise to the welsh word 'Nadolig' - meaning Christmas, 25th December being the traditional birth date of Jesus, and the time of year when the sun is 'reborn' at the winter solstice. This has led him to suggest that Nattie Fontein could be a medieval latin version of 'Natalis Fontana' - the winter solstice spring.Further details on Colin's research will be available in his forth coming book 'Many Dark Secrets - a history of the North York Moors'.
Wade, Bell, The Old Wife and Bride are connected with several natural features and prehistoric sites around the North York Moors which led the archaeologist, Frank Elgee, to suggest that the Old Wife tradition may have origins dating back to a Bronze age Fertility goddess.
|Access - A forestry commission signpost marks the short
path to the well.
Condition - Excellent. no real change since our visit in 1988 and on a visit in June 99 there were still pieces of cloth tied to nearby branches.