NS3975 : Shear's Well, Levengrove Park

taken 9 months ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Shear's Well, Levengrove Park
Shear's Well, Levengrove Park
The small structure in the left foreground was built in 2018, replacing the earlier one shown in NS3975 : Shear's Well, Levengrove Park, but the original water pump beside it has been retained. The first end-note has more information about the well itself. See NS3975 : Shear's Well, Levengrove Park for a closer view of the rebuilt structure, from the front.

On the previous afternoon, when I first examined the refurbished well, I got to chatting with someone who was well acquainted with recent developments in the park; he helpfully pointed out to me that the small fenced-off area visible in the background of the present picture, about 50 metres away, is the site of another old well that had only recently been uncovered by chance, when storms brought down a tree: see NS3975 : Old well, Levengrove Park and related pictures. He also mentioned that there was now an online 3D model of the newly-rediscovered well; see the first end-note for the link.

As mentioned in that end-note, that other well is at or close to the site of a well that is marked on the first-edition OS map (c.1860); at that time, the water pump and adjacent structure shown in the foreground of the picture did not yet exist.

[Note: I use the name Shear's Well for the one shown in the foreground, mainly because this is now well-established usage. The other well, being older, has at least as good a claim on the name, but it would now cause confusion to refer to that one as Shear's Well; it would be even more confusing to apply the name to both of the wells.]
Shear's Well, Levengrove Park
Shear's Well, marked as a water pump on OS maps from 1914 onwards, is located near the eastern edge of Levengrove Park. The small structure built over that well was replaced in 2018 during a programme of improvements to the park. According to an information panel installed beside the well in June 2019, the original water pump was manufactured by George Smith & Sons, of the Sun Foundry, Glasgow.

See LinkExternal link (at SketchFab) for a manipulable online 3D model, by Rathmell Archaeology, of the water pump and of the small adjacent structure (that is, the one built in 2018).

Shear's Well is not far from the ruins LinkExternal link of St Serf's Church, and the name "Shear's" is possibly related to "Serf's". David Murray, author of "Old Cardross" (1880), records that the saint's name itself is encountered in various forms: Servanus, Serf, Serran, Sair, Seres. He was of the opinion that "Shear's" is derived from the last of those forms. Donald MacLeod states, in his "Historic Families, Notable People, and Memorabilia of the Lennox" (1891), that "St Shear's or St Serf's well, the holy well, supplied Under Kirkton village with water", and that "it is now a drinking fountain in the Park" (Under Kirkton was the name of a little settlement or clachan, now long gone, that grew up beside St Serf's church).

The water pump and the small adjacent structure are not shown on the first-edition OS map (surveyed in c.1860). That map does show a well, though; it was not at the same location as Shear's Well, but was about 50 metres to the northwest. In 2018, an old well was uncovered near that spot: see LinkExternal link for pictures of it, and for more information.

In view of their nearness to each other, it is likely that both wells are supplied by the same source. The practical importance of this water source lay in the fact that, for a long time, it fed Dumbarton's Town Well. The latter was located on the High Street of the medieval burgh, that is, on the other side of the River Leven. A pipe was therefore laid on the bed of the Leven to direct the water to the town well. See LinkExternal link for more on that topic, and for the relevant entries from the Burgh records.
Levengrove Park :: NS3974
The lands of Levengrove were originally part of an area named Ferrylands, so called because, before Dumbarton Bridge was built in 1765, the River Leven was crossed by means of a ferry. John Dixon, a Dumbarton merchant, acquired Levengrove in 1805 from Richard Dennistoun of Kelvingrove (in Glasgow).

The Dixons built Levengrove House (demolished c.1880), whose former grounds make up much of what is now the park. In 1885, Levengrove Park, 32 acres in area, was gifted to the town of Dumbarton by Dr Peter Denny and John McMillan (son of local shipbuilder Archibald McMillan), the expense to them being 20,000.

The park contains the ruins of St Serf's Church LinkExternal link anciently the parish church of Cardross. That church was at one time part of a cluster of buildings, a clachan, that is marked as "Little Kirktoun" on the Pont/Blaeu map of the Lennox. The ruined church was later used by the Dixon family as a burial place: see LinkExternal link (in a Geograph article).
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NS3975, 550 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Monday, 26 November, 2018   (more nearby)
Thursday, 6 December, 2018
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Derelict, Disused  Water resources 
Former (from Tags)
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3935 7510 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.5209N 4:34.4292W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3935 7510
View Direction
West-northwest (about 292 degrees)
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