St. Bernard's Well


Edinburgh, Scotland

NileGuide Expert tip:

Visit the well an hour after a heavy rainstorm to enjoy maximum water flow.


St. Bernard's Well, located in the Stockbridge neighborhood of Edinburgh (just 15 minutes outside of the city centre), is a round Roman-style temple whose legendary and "miraculous" mineral waters are purported to have cured various ailments including arthritis, back aches and blindness.

Its history (courtesy of FortuneCity): Legend has it that it was originally discovered by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercian Order, in the 12th Century. After being poorly received at court, and suffering from a sickness, he went to live in a cave near the Water of Leith. There, he was attracted to the spring by the birds which visited it and he drank its healing waters until his strength returned. Tradition says that it was rediscovered in 1760 by three Heriot's school boys who were fishing nearby. Chemical analysis would later reveal that the water was similar to the sulphur springs at Harrogate in Yorkshire. The mineral well soon became a popular resort for those afflicted by the fad for 'taking the waters'. By 1764, the well was so great an attraction that accommodation in the Stockbridge area was at a premium during the summer season. In August 1788, the well was bought by Lord Gardenstone, who claimed he had derived great benefit from drinking the waters and, in 1789, the present construction, a circular Roman Temple was commissioned by him. This elegant architectural structure in the form of a Doric rotunda is inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in Italy. Under the lead dome stands a marble statue of Hygieia, Goddess of Health.

Modern times (courtesy of St. Bernard's Well must be something remarkable since many locals and out-of-town miracle seekers are willing to jump its surrounding iron gate (it is only open on special days, such as Open Doors Day) and brave the well's reportedly metallic smell (not to mention the waters' utterly foul taste).

According to, the best time to visit the well  is "an hour after a heavy rainstorm, when rainwater from the Pentlands thunders through the channels under the Dean Bridge." It is located in a deep valley surrounded by parks on either side and the Water of Leith which flows underneath.


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