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  Holy Wells and Magical Waters

Haleyhole, Stromness

A noted curative well in Stromness was known as the “Haley Hole”- undoubtedly a corruption of the Old Norse "heilagr", meaning "Holy".

For centuries, the well, beside the road near Brownstown, was visited by pilgrims from across Orkney. Its waters were regarded as a miraculous cure-all, a tradition that remained strong into the 19th century – although by then belief in its powers had been diluted somewhat and the water was regarded as a health tonic. Around this time, a well-house was built over it – to protect it from bird and beast.

Water was still being drawn from the Haleyhole in the 20th century, with the Orcadian folklorist Ernest Marwick noting that when his father was ill, friends in Stromness supplied him with a regular supply of the well water.

The Haleyhole is practically forgotten these days, the only remnant of its existence being Hellihole Road in Stromness – the route once taken by those heading to partake of the magical water.