St Andrews Wells

St Andrews Wells KMB S NO437145 1 363 145m

usque ad Fontem Sancti Andree 1263 x 1264 Barrow 1974 no. 7 [‘as far as the well of St Andrew’; one of the marches of Morton of Blebo; see KMB Introduction]
St Andrews Wells 1775 Ainslie/Fife
St Andrews Well 1827 Ainslie/East Fife
St Andrews Wells 1828 SGF
St Andrews Well 1856 OS 6 inch 1st edn

pn St Andrew + Sc wall

‘St Andrew’s well(s)’. This is now a cottage which stands just within KMB on the KMB/CER border. Until 1621 it was on the KMB/SSL border, and it may have been its position right at the edge of St Andrews parish which gave rise to its name. It lay on the main medieval route into St Andrews, and would have marked the spot where pilgrims and other travellers enter the immediate lands of St Andrew, and only a hundred or so metres west of the place where they would get their first view of the church of St Andrew. The first sight that pilgrims get of their destination is a ritually significant moment on pilgrimage. In the 1790s OSA recorded that ‘the devotees at Anstruther, who could not see the church of Kilrenney till they travelled up the rising ground to what they called the Hill, then pulled off their bonnets, fell on their knees, crossed themselves, and prayed to St Irnie’ (OSA, 475). A small shrine may have stood at St Andrews Wells.

    It is clear from the thirteenth-century reference that there was only one well here, and the variation between the singular and the plural in the later forms may be a result of intrusive s caused by the final s on Andrews. There is today only one well in evidence.

    OS Name Book has an explanation at odds with the above, and one which seems unlikely: ‘The name is derived from the well near the house, being a favourite resort of influential persons from St Andrews in former times’ (59, 26).

    When visited in March 1995 the old cottage was roofless. It has since been handsomely restored, with a large new wing designed to look like a conversion of a traditional horse mill. During the restoration the well itself was uncovered, and has been made into a garden feature on the south side of the house. It is well-built, stone-lined, and very deep.

This place-name appeared in printed volume 2