St Barnard’s Mineral Well, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

Category: Europe, Scotland, View All
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Description

In August 1788, the well was bought by Lord Gardenstone, who claimed he had derived great benefit from drinking the waters and, in 1789, the present construction, a circular Roman Temple was commissioned by him. This elegant architectural structure in the form of a Doric rotunda is inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in Italy. Under the lead dome stands a marble statue of Hygieia, Goddess of Health. In 1885, the well and grounds were purchased by the publishers Thomas Nelson & Sons. After restoration, it was left to the City of Edinburgh. The pump-room was refurbished in lavish Victonan style. The interior was designed like a celestial vault sparkling with sequin-like stars when sunlight strikes through the stained glass windows. The white marble pedestal is inscribed BIBENDO VALEBIS (By Drinking You Will Be Well).

“According to tradition, St. Bernard’s Well near Stockbridge in Edinburgh was re-discovered by three Heriot’s school boys while fishing in the Water of Leith in 1760. Legend has it that it was originally discovered by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercian Order, in the 12th Century. After being poorly received at court, and suffering from a sickness, he went to live in a cave near the Water of Leith. There, he was attracted to the spring by the birds which visited it and he drank its healing waters until his strength returned. In September 1760 the mineral spring was covered by a small wellhouse. ‘Claudero’ (James Wilson), the contemporary poet, composed a eulogy for the occasion: ‘This water so healthful near Edinburgh doth rise which not only Bath but Moffat outvies. It cleans the intestines and an appetite gives while morbfic matters it quite away drives.’ Chemical analysis revealed that the water was similar to the sulphur springs at Harrogate in Yorkshire. The mineral well soon became a popular resort for those afflicted by the fad for ‘taking the waters’. By 1764, the well was so great an attraction that accommodation in the Stockbndge area was at a premium during the summer season. It seems that habitual drinkers of the waters must have had cast iron constitutions, for one later visitor likened the flavour of the water to ‘the washings of foul gun barrels’. The revitalised well remained popular until its closure in 1940, following the outbreak of war. Remarkable claims continued to be made for its medicinal properties, ranging from the efficacy of a regular morning glass as a tonic for the system to a complete cure-all for rheumatism and arthritis. The temple then resembled a continental cafe with ‘little tables where regulars chatted with friends’. Aerated water from the well was even bottled and marketed for a short while.” – http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=10580

Nearest Address

Stockbridge/Dean Village Midlothian, Edinburgh

Directions from Nearest Address

St Bernard’s Well is found on the Leith Walkway between Dean Village and Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

Vital Information

  • Fee: N/A
  • Access: Private
  • Flow: N/A
  • TDS: N/A
  • Temp: N/A
  • pH: N/A

Hours Spring is Open:

St Bernard’s Well opens to the public St Bernard’s Well, situated by the Water of Leith in Stockbridge, will be open to the public from 12pm to 3pm on the following days: Sunday 9 August Sunday 16 August Sunday 23 August Sunday 30 August Saturday 26 September (as part of Doors Open Day).

GPS: N/A

Map Link: St Barnard’s Mineral Well Map

Submitted by: Steve: of the Montgomery family & Susan: of the Reynolds family

Responses

  1. Good evening,

    Please can you let me know why I can’t collect water from this spring every day? Why is it closed to the public apart from a few days of the year?

    Warm wishes

    Emily

How to Collect Spring Water

Drinking pure spring water is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Our bodies are over 99% water at the molecular level, so water affects every aspect of our biology. Yet, not all water is created equal. Almost all the bottled spring water available is pasteurized for shelf stability, which neutralizes many of the powerful health benefits such as increased hydrogen, healthy probiotics, and crystalline structure. For more about why unprocessed spring water is the best water to drink, read this.

The best way to guarantee you are getting real unprocessed spring water is to collect it yourself. This is a short and simple guide filled with information about how to gather spring water. We will cover how to find a spring, how to collect the water, how to honor the spring, how to store the water properly and other tips.

FindASpring.org is the best resource for locating a spring near you. However, not all springs are on the map. First, check the map to see if there is a spring in your local area. If there is, look at the reviews and comments. Has anyone shared helpful information about flow rate or posted a water test result? Is the spring in a pristine area? Do a bit of research and make sure the spring is safe to drink from. If you have any doubt about the purity, don’t risk it and get a water test, HERE. If you don’t see a spring on the map in your area, there still might be some that aren’t listed yet. First, ask the older generation who have lived in your area a long time if they know. You can also ask people in your community who might already get spring water such as people at a health food store or at a farmers market. Another great option is to view A US forest service map, where many springs have been marked. You can view these maps through the Gaia GPS or All Trails hiking apps on your phone. The map overlay you want is USGS Topo. Not all are easily accessible or ideal for drinking, but some are and it can be a fun adventure to find them. We have found over half a dozen great springs this way.

Once you’ve found your spring, figure out how you are going to gather the water. Is it right on the side of the road and easy to access or do you have to hike to it? We recommend storing spring water in glass instead of plastic to preserve the purity of the water. It is better for the environment, your body, and the water. Even BPA free plastic has toxic chemicals that can leach into water and cause health issues. If you do want to use plastic for safety reasons when filling at the spring, we recommend transferring the water to glass as soon as possible. FindASpring is sponsored by Alive Waters, which offers beautiful reusable glass. They have a 2.5 gallon option, which is a convenient size for carrying that isn’t too heavy. They also sell handles that you can use to transport the jugs even more easily. If you have to hike to access the spring, we recommend putting the water jugs into an extra large backpack to hike the water out with ease. We use Osprey packs that hold 2 jugs each. You can also use a wheelbarrow or even a stroller depending on how easy a walk it is.

Filling 2.5 Gallon Alive Waters Jug

When you get to the spring, remember to first give back before you take. Springs are considered sacred in indigenous cultures around the world for their life giving water and also as a connection to the inner earth. A powerful and simple way to give back is to clean up. Is there any trash that needs to be collected? Could you move any dead leaves or sticks to improve the flow rate? Show up in service. Some other wonderful ways to give is with a moment of expressing verbal gratitude, singing songs to the water, offering the water an ethically sourced crystal, a feather, or some other physical gift. Flowers are a popular and beautiful thing to offer, but please be careful to source organic ones as most flowers from the store are sprayed with pesticides and can be toxic to put near a spring. Also, flowers can attract bugs as they decay, so it can be best to offer them to the flowing water directly or a little downstream from the spring head.

When gathering the water, fill the jug as close to the spring head as possible, never gather downstream. Be very careful as wet glass is extremely slippery. Make sure the lid is securely fastened. When transporting the spring water home, the jugs can sometimes slide around the car. Secure them in place or wrap them with towels or something so they don’t crash into each other.

How you store your spring water is essential. It is not pasteurized like spring water from the store, so it will start growing algae if left in direct sunlight. This is good because it means it’s alive! If the water you drink can’t even support the most basic life forms, how do you think it will support your body? Store your water in a cool, dark place such as a dark corner, pantry or closet. The fridge is ideal if you have room. Some people prefer to filter their water through a Berkey filter before drinking, but if the spring is pure, it’s not necessary. We drink our spring water completely unfiltered.

How long the water stays good for depends on how cold a temperature it’s stored at. Spring water is best fresh. We personally do not prefer to drink spring water past 2 weeks old. However, we know other people that will drink it at a month old. It’s great to get in a rhythm where you know how long the water lasts you and put your collection day on the calendar in advance.

I believe that water is calling us to reconnect with her in the deepest way, to gather our own water. Just like our ancestors did. Our ancestors didn’t have fancy water machines. They also didn’t create villages or settle where there was no water. Water was revered as the center of the community and the nodal point around which life could spiral out and take root.

Here’s to restoring the sacred connection with the waters of life.

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