The Lady Well at Headon

First, two announcements:

  1. I’m signing IMMORTAL OUTLAW tomorrow, Saturday, August 15, at the Barnes & Noble in Medford, OR (4pm). If you’re in the area, bring every live human you can lasso and come for fun, games, and giveaways.
  2. My first ever book video is up on the Books page. Skip over, watch it, and then come back. I’ll wait.


Back?  Good. On to our next stop:

When medieval people located an especially fine or clear spring, they often dedicated it to the Virgin Mary (the Lady). Thus, the lady wells that dot England and Scotland. There are especially famous lady wells in Lewisham (London) and Glasgow.

The lady well featured in IMMORTAL OUTLAW lies at the foot of a rise north of Headon, a tiny village in Bassetlaw, the northernmost district of Nottinghamshire. It’s a real well, documented in both the name of a road—Lady Well Lane, which passes by Nether Headon—and on the UK Megaliths website. (Unfortunately, the latter is down as of when I’m writing this. If it comes back online later, I’ll provide a link to the correct page.)


If you  squint at the accompanying thumbnail photo (the larger picture I intended to include vanished along with the Megaliths site) [SEE UPDATE JUST BELOW],  you can see that there is indeed a hill behind the well, though I couldn’t find a photo of it, and it wasn’t that clear in Google Earth, either. Not that it would have looked the same as it did at the end of the 13th century anyway. Thus, my supposition of a boulder and a snag on top that could have made a stag’s head is, well, supposition. Imagination. Licentia poetica. I do make my living writing fiction…

UPDATE: 1/28/13:  It turns out the original of this picture of the Lady Well at Headon was taken by R.B. Parish for the book Holy Wells and Healing Springs of Nottinghamshire. You can find a much larger version of the image HERE, along with information on the book. Thanks to pixyledpublications for the information and for generous permission to continue to use the photo. (I removed a second photo which was not from Headon.)

The lady well was ‘dressed’ in 2000,  i.e. enclosed by the fancy new brickwork, continuing a tradition of enclosing such wells to preserve them and to honor the Lady. I made the assumption that it was much plainer in the 13th c.

Although Headon manor was listed in the Domesday book as Hedune, it’s difficult to find any historical information about it. Or any current information, for that matter. However, you can find a set of photos of the area, HERE, including a picture of the manor (much later construction) and the 12th & 14th c St. Peter’s Church, the chapel in which Cwen knelt for hours to avoid Ari, and the manor. You’ll notice the square Norman tower, almost identical to the one on the church in Maltby. The top left photo of the set, the one titled “Headon from Nether Headon,” would have been taken from almost exactly the same spot where Marian told Steinarr she would meet his conditions for aid.

NEXT STOP: A bit about the nuns of Kirklees


1 Comment

  1. Hi Lisa
    Interested to see you’ve written a book including this delightful well, you may be interested to know that I have a book on holy wells and healing wells of Nottinghamshire, available from me or email. Incidentally the photos are mine as well, I don’t mind the use, link to my blog would be good, only to say the top one is not Headon lady well, but Lady Well Wall, Baslow Derbyshire…megalithic has that fault unfortunately…all the best


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