Cloutie Wells

Clouties wells are places of pilgrimage in the Celtic areas of Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall.

They are wells or springs that almost always have a whitethorn tree beside them, or on occasion an ash tree. Strips of cloth are tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. Cloutie is a Scottish word for strip of cloth or a rag.

The practice is pre-Christian and the pilgrimages are usually made either on local saints days, or on the quarter or festival days. Imbolc 1st February, Beltane 1st May, Lughnasadh 1st August and Samain 1st November.

In 1581 the Scottish Parliament made pilgrimage to Holy wells illegal as it was seen by the Presbyterians as a heathen practice, but as tends to happen the Celts ignored this law and carried on. The practice still continues today.


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