The mysterious tale of the well that ran red with blood

Again looking for tales to amuse you I came across one concerning Kilwinning.

Now we all know that the prefix ‘kil’ to a name is a derivation of cell meaning a place where a religious group held services. For instance Kilmarnock, Kilmacolm and Kilwinning to name but a few.

Well Kilwinning is my port of call this week and it all started with a cleric named St. Winning back in the 7th Cntury who built a small church in the area. Little is known about St. Winning except that he blessed Kyle’s Well which had some claim to fame in those early years.. However in the 12th Century a Norman knight, Simon de Morville, whom I mentioned last week, was prominent in the area. It is understood that the de Morville family commissioned the building of an abbey in the traditional shape of a Christian cross aligned east to west. To allow the monks to maintain the abbey and provide for themselves they were given lands which extended as far as Beith. Unfortunately through mismanagement the abbey lost its lands and the building fell into disrepair even as far as it becoming the source for materials for construction work in the surrounding area even as far as the Eglinton estate. The tower became a ruin and was demolished with in its place a clock tower built in 1816 for the sum of £1,590, 10/11. If you do not understand the 10/11 bit ask someone who was around pre-decimalization. However modernisation had gone further than that as the clock is nowadays operated by a small electric motor instead of the usual weights.

In Kilwinning once stood Kyle’s Well which was within the precincts of Kilwinning Abbey, and as already mentioned was considered to have been blessed by St. Winning. It is thought that this well gave premonition of war, as prior to any conflict it is said to have run with blood. Turning water to blood has its roots in Celtic myth as a warning of peril to come and the blood was known to run in Kyle’s Well for eight days and eight nights. However in 1826 workmen were working at the west side of the abbey when they came upon a very old lead pipe which ran from the abbey to the well. It was then thought that the monks poured animal blood or a blood coloured liquid into the well in order to perpetuate the myth. It is amazing what our predecessors were faced with, no doubt the monks terrorised the district with premonitions of perils to come unless they were granted favours. With the coming of the Ardrossan railway the well was destroyed so no-one saw whether it ran with blood in 1914 and 1939.