Other St Non Wells

by Mark Valentine

Meyrick (Holy Wells of Cornwall, privately published, 1982) mentions three wells dedicated to St Non. The first, at Altarnun (NGR; SW 226 816, sheet 201)is on private land, and apparently dried up. It has a roofed, walled structure around it, and was formerly renown for the cure of madmen, who were thrown abruptly into the waters and ducked a number of times. Tradition records that St Non came here in 527, married a Cereticus and bore him St David, born at Altarnun, and commemorated by Davidstow nearby – clearly an alternative legend to more renowned Welsh versions!

Grampound has a well dedicated to St Naunter (NGR; SW 938 497, sheet 204), on private land now, which formerly had a chapel. A chapel of 1869 in the village is dedicated to St Non, and it is thought she was the original of ‘Naunter’ too.

Pelynt (NGR; SW 224 564, sheet 201) has a St Nun’s Well, with a stone building in need of preservation; there was formerly a chapel also. It is said to be guarded by an ‘elf’.

There will almost certainly be more dedications to St Non/Nun/Nonne throughout the country; St Anne is one of the most popular of all, and it is tempting to wonder whether there is any etymological connection. More information is welcomed!

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