button to main menu   Old Cumbria Gazetteer
place:- Ebbing and Flowing Well
site name:- Giggleswick Scar
locality:- Giggleswick
county:- North Yorkshire
well; spring; tiding well; ebbing and flowing well
coordinates:- SD80426538
10Km square:- SD86

1Km square SD8065


well, Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick -- North Yorkshire / -- 26.6.2011

well, Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick -- North Yorkshire / -- 7.3.2008

old map:- Ford 1839 map

Map of the Lake District, published in A Description of Scenery in the Lake District, by William Ford, published by Charles Thurnham, London, 1839.
thumbnail FD02SD77, button to large image

placename:- Ebbingwell
county:- Yorkshire
date:- 1839
period:- 19th century, early; 1830s

descriptive text:- Otley 1823 (8th edn 1849)

Guidebook, Concise Description of the English Lakes, later A Description of the English Lakes, by Jonathan Otley, published by the author, Keswick, Cumberland, by J Richardson, London, and by Arthur Foster, Kirky Lonsdale, Cumbria, 1823 onwards.
image OT80P206, button   goto source.
Page 206:-
... the Ebbing and Flowing Well: of which Barnaby sang -
   Ibi vena prope viae
   Fluit, refluit, nocte, die;
   Newque norunt unde vena,
   An a sale vel arena.
image OT80P207, button   goto source.
Page 207:-
   Near to th' way as a traveller goes,
   A fine fresh spring both ebbs and flows;
   Neither know the learned that travel.
   What procures it - salt or gravel.
Since those days, this phenomenon has been attributed not to 'salt or gravel,' but to the action of a syphon which Nature herself has constructed in the cliffs above. ...

placename:- Ebbing and Flowing Well
person:- : Barnaby
date:- 1849
period:- 19th century, early

descriptive text:- West 1778 (11th edn 1821)

Guide book, A Guide to the Lakes, by Thomas West, published by William Pennington, Kendal, Cumbria once Westmorland, and in London, 1778 to 1821.
image WS21P276, button   goto source.
Tour to the Caves in the West Riding of Yorkshire, late 18th century
Page 276:-
About a quarter of a mile before we arrived at Settle, we turned to the right, along the road towards Kirkby-Lonsdale, about a mile, under the high and romantic rocks called Giggleswick-scar, in order to see the well by the way-side, that ebbs and flows. We were in luck, seeing it reciprocate several times while we were there, and not staying above an hour. We could not however learn with any degree of certainty, by what intervals of time, and to what heights and depths, the reciprocation was carried on. We were informed, that if the weather was either very droughty or very wet, the phenomenon ceased. I have seen some philosophical attempts to solve this extraordinary curiosity on the principle of the syphon, but in vain; as, on that hypothesis, if the syphon is filled by the spring, it will flow on uniformly for ever. We were told by drunken Barnaby, an hundred and fifty years ago, that it puzzled the wits of his age.-
image WS21P277, button   goto source.
Page 277:-
   Veni Giggleswick, parum frugis / Profert tellus, clausa jugis: / Ibi vena prope vioe / Fluit, refluit, note, die; / Neque norunt unde vena, / An a sale vel arena.
   Thence to Giggleswick, most steril, / Hemm'd with shelves and rocks of peril. / Near to the way, as a traveller goes, / A fine fresh spring both ebbs and flows: / Neither know the learn'd that travel, / What procures it, sand or gravel.
date:- 1760
period:- 18th century, late; 1760s

source:- Brathwaite 1638

Poem, Drunken Barnaby's Four Journey to the North of England, by Richard Brathwaite, 1638, published 1716-62.
Page 27:-
Thence to Giggleswick most steril,
Hemm'd with Rocks and Shelves of Peril:
Near to th' Way as a Traveller goes,
A fresh Spring both ebbs and flows:
Neither knows the Learn'd that travel,
What procures it, Salt or Gravel.
date:- 1638
period:- 17th century, early; 1630s

source:- West 1774

Book, The Antiquities of Furness, by Thomas West, printed for the author by T Spilsbury, London, 1774; published 1774-1805?
Page 381:-
The properties of springs or wells which reciprocate at short intervals, may be accounted for in a plausible manner upon the principle of the syphon. There is a well near Giggleswick in Yorkshire, very remarkable for its alternations, which are performed in a small bason or reservoir, placed over the spring. The water after subsiding ten or twelve inches, returns to its former height in much less time, and the alternate accumulation and diminution occurs several times in the course of an hour, when the season is neither very wet nor very dry; but after much rain, or long continued draught (sic), the reciprocations are very variable and uncertain in their returns.
One very plausible manner of accounting for the settled alternations of such a well, when the water subsides much slower than it accumulates, is the following.
the relevant plate is tipped in opposite p.191:-
thumbnail WS2703, button to large image
Let Fig.8. in Pl.V. represent the section of the rock where the spring is situated, and which contains the natural apparatus producing the alternations in the bason. B is a cavity, receiving an equable supply of water, through a small crevice or apperture at A. C is a crooked passage or natural syphon in the rock: its higher end opens into the cavity B, and its lower is situated over an open bason or cavity D, which, by a wide descending pipe or passage, communicates with the well E. The bottom of the well E terminates in a small duct or passage F, through which the water descends from the well into a lower situation.
If the small stream from A, after filling the cavity B, be sufficient to fill the syphon C, the descending column being considerably longer than the ascending one, the current through the syphon being accelerated by the pressure of the atmosphere, rendered active on the surface of the water in B, by the impending effect of the descending column in the syphon, the water in the cavity B, independent of the supply, will rapidly subside to a level with the higher orifice of the syphon: when a quantity of the air being taken into that pipe, its operation will cease, until the cavity is again
Page 382:-
filled by the spring. Every time that the syphon empties the cavity, the water, being rapidly poured into the bason D, and descending by the passage below, will rise in the well E, until the cessation of the operation of the syphon: and then it will subside by running off at the outlet at the bottom of the well, until the syphon begins again to empty the superior cavity: and in this manner the alternations in the well will continue, so long as the spring at A affords a proper supply. When there is too much, the syphon will always be full, and the well below will always overflow: when there is too little, the syphon will never be filled, but only transmit the water as fast as it comes, consequently, the well will always be nearly empty. If the cavity B, be contracted in its higher part here it is on a level with the turn of the syphon, more regularity will occur in the alternations, and a smaller supply will fill the syphon, and make it emit a full stream sooner, than would suffice if the cavity was every where of the same width.
date:- 1805
period:- 19th century, early; 1800s

old print:- Lowther 1780s-90s

Scrapbook, 4 volumes, of descriptive texts, maps, and prints of views and coats of arms, for Westmorland and Cumberland, assembled by a member of the Lowther Family, late 18th early 19th century.
thumbnail BNF21, button to large image
Print, engraving, Flowing and Ebbing Well, in Giggleswick Scarr, North Yorkshire, by J Feary and S Buck, 1777.

other name:- Flowing and Ebbing Well
date:- 1777
period:- 18th century, late

tiny photograph, 
button to large well, Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick -- North Yorkshire / -- The well has a plaque:- -- 'THE MILLENNIUM MARQUE AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE / MM / THE MARQUE OF THE NEW CENTURY' -- which begs a lot of questions - this site is hardly excellent. -- 7.3.2008

On the second visit the well could be seen to ebb and flow, if you were observant and patient. The cycle took about 2 to 2.5 minutes. Water was flowing out of the cistern all the while. Water flowed in over a cill, but also through a hole in the face on the stone under the water - watch the water weeds to see this.
Hardly dramatic, but very intriguing.
tiny photograph, 
button to large well, Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick -- North Yorkshire / -- The cistern. -- 26.6.2011
tiny photograph, 
button to large well, Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick -- North Yorkshire / -- Low level. -- 26.6.2011
tiny photograph, 
button to large well, Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick Scar -- Giggleswick -- North Yorkshire / -- High level, water just flowing over the cill. -- 26.6.2011

Old Cumbria Gazetteer - JandMN: 2013

button to lakes menu  Lakes Guides menu.