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April 27th 1656

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The Grews Holy Well

Holy wells have always abounded in Perthshire and many of them were there long before Christianity reached the country. The early Christian missionaries rather sensibly took them over, and the wells, with the blessing of the church, continue to fulfil, with varying measures of efficiency, their powers to relieve whooping cough, scurvy, toothache, lumbago, bladder troubles, rheumatism and other ailments.

Unfortunately, when Scotland embraced Presbyterianism the ministers were less ready to condone such relics of the old faith and even less happy with the thought that many traced their origins to even older pagan beliefs.

In the hills high above Butterstone is the Grews Well (originally Santa Crux or Well of the Holy Cross). This was extremely popular and people travelled many miles to drink from its waters. It was considered altogether too popular by the church.

Aug 30th 1657. “Compeared Christiane Reat, from Rattray who was accused of breach of Sabbath by travelling thereon to Grwss Well and for ascribing more vertew to that Well upon that day (the first Sunday in May) nor to any other well on any other day. The minister did labour to make her sensible that it was sinful to hir to doe such things and she submitted hirself to the will of the Session.”  She confessed her sin publicly and promised never to go again.

From Logierait about ten miles from Grews. April 27th 1656 the elders are “exhorted to be circumspect in their places that none goe to wells especillie John Robertson at the Porte to take notice of any that goe that way to Crewss Well.” 

In spite of these examples of ecclesiastical disapproval people still visited the well and in 1842 Thomas Imrie stated “This well, Grews Well, is considered to possess medicinal properties of the first order, but the only time these qualities have their proper efficacy is on the first Sabbath of May. Annually on that day many still resort to that spring travelling sometimes twenty or even thirty miles fully convinced that the drinking of the water and other ceremonies will restore health when all other remedies fail.”  The importance of the first Sabbath in May is of course bound up with the old Beltane ceremony.

The Grews Well still remains as does the small stone font which was used in catholic tomes.

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