Purification Pools at Saveok

Saveok Purification Pools:

Saveok Mill, Greenbottom, Cornwall, England

Located on the small local farm of Saveok Mill called “Saveok Water Archaeological Site”, resident Jacqui Wood discovered very curious archaeological features in her backyard when clearing the ground for a metal-work furnace on her land as one of her experimental archaeology projects. One of the phases of the site, was the uncovering of sacred stone-lined purification pools that had a plethera of ritual offerings within them such as cloth, heather branches, a cauldron, clothing, shoe parts, pins, finger clippings, and hair. This votive pool was found to have been filled in during the mid-18th century. The silt appears to have been imported into the site from elsewhere. This site phase appears to be a Neolithic ritual area was a series of Spring pools that may have been utilized as ‘purification pools’ or ‘sacred wells/springs’ through the ages. This natural spring line were large rectangular pools stone-lined with white quartz cores. As of this writing, there are at least two such pools on the site. Patterns of the stone lining, pool contents, and the seasonal filling of the second pool appears to have religious or ritualistic usage. Both of these features are very unique in Cornish archaeology – the only other such find was under the Maeshowe monument in Orkney that had a similar stone lined drain. Since anti-witchcraft laws were in place since 1541, their participation in these activities would have definitely remained hidden, for at this time the King James version of the Bible at the time declared into law that “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live“. [Exodus 22:17] The stone-line spring may have been utilized as a ‘holy well’ by these residents as well as its prehistoric use as such. The spring was packed full of ‘offerings’ dating to at least the 17th century including 125 strips of cloth from dresses and clothing, as well as pins, remains of a cauldron, cherry stones, human hair, shoe parts, imported heather branches, and nail clippings – all very commonly used offerings to sacred springs and wells. Modern day applications of these elements can be found existing in sacred wells and springs throughout the Cornish landscape today. Pins and cloth are common offerings to wells. Heather branches are associated with luck. The scraps of clothing could potentially have been remnants of ‘clotiers’ that are found around most of the wells throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland perhaps from a tree that was alongside the spring or just offered into the pool directly. (see modern example in article on “St Madron’s Well” located 25 miles from this site) This Well and/or Spring had sometime after the time of Cromwell had been filled in and destroyed in order to hide the practices that were taking place on this site since at least Neolithic times. The death penalty for the practice of Witchcraft officially ended in 1735 and by that time, evidence of this ritual site was covered over, and later residents of the site would have not been aware of what lie beneath. Over 128 pieces of fabric, varying from different weaves, thickness, and color were found in the votive pool. There were over 48 leather shoe parts found in the votive pool from sandals to shoes. Shoe offerings are notably in history to be associated with female genitals and could have been deposited for fertility offerings. Heather branches found offered into the pool are potentially good luck offerings done by gypsies. Six delicate pins were also found in the votive pool.

















Ritual/Purification Pool Artifacts:

Cloth found in the Purification Pool:



Cauldron fragments found in the Ritual Pool:


Pins, Hair, Nail Clippings, Wood, seeds, and shoe parts found in the Ritual Pool:





Heather branches and cloth found in the purification pools:


Crystal and stone items found in the pools:





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