|Type of record:||Monument|
|Name:||Long Loch well, Dunnet Head|
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A well associated with Dunnet Head Lighthouse.
|Grid Reference:||ND 20418 75816|
- WELL (Built (at some time) 19th Century - 1801 AD to 1900 AD)
- BENCH MARK (Established (at some time) 19th Century - 1801 AD to 1900 AD)
- Historic Environment Record: MHG55419
A well situated on the west side of the B855 road to Dunnet Head. The well is believed to have been used as a source of water for Dunnet Head Lighthouse before a pumped supply from the Long Loch was installed. The Lighthouse and the road were constructed in 1831 and the well might date from then. Within living memory the well was lime washed each year but this practice ceased more than 40 years ago.
The well consists of a basin cut from one piece of stone which is set centrally in a freestone retaining wall 2.1 metres wide. The wall bears a cut benchmark. One of the blocks at the back of the aperture in which the basin is set has a groove of semicircular cross section, forming a hole in the back wall which was evidently the water inlet to the basin. The remains of mortar rebates and wooden plugs in the side walls of the aperture indicate that a door was once in place. In front of the wall there is an apron constructed from freestone slabs, one of which has an angled groove which directs overspill from the main basin to a second shallower basin, also cut from a single stone. Water spilling from the second basin, together with water from the roadside ditch is carried under the road through a stone-built culvert. A second benchmark is cut into the apron.
Access to the well from the road is not easy. The apron is about one metre below the present level of the road, but the road might have been progressively raised since it was first constructed. The ditch between the well and the road is bridged by a stone which is obviously meant for access, but there are no steps up to the road. It is possible that steps once existed but were removed during road and ditch improvements (or they might now lie under the road verge). The upper basin is sufficiently deep for a pail to be dipped. The lower, shallower basin might have been intended for watering horses (although access by horses would now be impossible due to the basin being far below road level). It seems more likely that the lower basin was provided for passing travellers while the upper basin was for lighthouse use and guarded by a locked door to prevent fouling.
In 2011 the Brough Bay Association restored the well as part of the Brough Community Harbour Project. Before restoration the well was overgrown by vegetation and the apron and lower basin were concealed by a layer of soil. The southern half of the retaining wall was unstable and overhanging, causing the lintel above the basin to tilt. There was evidence of previous repairs using Portland cement. Vegetation and soil were removed and the stonework was cleaned. The unstable section of wall was dismantled and rebuilt. The lintel was levelled and the joints in the wall were pointed. The wall was painted white to replicate what is understood to have been the former practice.
During dismantling of the wall a fist-sized mass of a yellow substance, similar to butter or grease, was found behind the stones . It was left in place when the wall was rebuilt.
The well must have been located to exploit a spring or seepage of surface water but currently very little water enters the well. A peat bank has been cut across the slope above the well and this might have interfered with the local hydrology.
Information submitted by David Glass for Brough Bay Association <1>
Sources and further reading
|<1>||Text/Record Form: Glass, D. 07/2011. Information from Brough Community Harbour Project. Yes. Digital. . |
Related Monument/Building records
|MHG2240||Related to: Dunnet Head Lighthouse & Keeper's House, Walls & Gatepiers (Monument)|
Related Investigations - none