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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Advice on Opening up Old Well
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# Posted: 15 Oct 2020 00:09 - Edited by: AndrewHighlands

I'm new to this website. I have just moved onto my off-grid plot of land in the Highlands of Scotland. Can someone please offer some advice on how to re-instate an old well? I've searched in vain on the internet for information and I can't find any old books.
I've tried to attach a photograph of the well here. It is a shallow well (ca. 1-2ft below ground level) which had been covered up since the 1950s. After speaking to neighbours we located it and dug it out. We found some old stone steps leading down to it. The same neighbour can remember the well being used and said that it was the best in the area.
All I want to do is contain the water to stop dirt ingress and then either have a cover over it so that I can get the water by bucket, or install a hand syphon pump. In short, I just want to make the supply clean and I'm not bothered how I do this.
Can someone help please with some advice?

Irrigation Guy
# Posted: 15 Oct 2020 06:42

Not sure I would call that a well, looks more like a puddle. Has it been filled in? Are there stones lining it? Or maybe it’s just a small spring?

# Posted: 15 Oct 2020 08:08

I would say that's a mud puddle. Keep digging. What's the well lined with?

# Posted: 15 Oct 2020 08:10

Maybe some differences in terminology... in North America we generally call a well a water source that has been drilled, hammered and sometimes hand dug into the ground then lined with pipe or in the case of hand dug, with stone. In any case it would be a deep hole in the ground. What your picture shows.... unless more digging would reveal a hand dug well... appears to be what we would term a spring, or seep.

Maybe a search for how to develop a spring. Here are some pages that might help:

Spring Development

Spring Development Penn State

YouTube may offer some good ideas as well with a similar search.


# Posted: 16 Oct 2020 07:38

Thanks for all the replies.
Yes, the picture only shows the fact that I found the 'well'/'spring'/'seep'. Interesting about the different terminologies.
Everyone in Scotland calls them 'wells'. The subsurface is about 3ft of boulder clay under which there is clay. I think that the water table must be below this clay and the wells that were hand dug penetrated the clay layer.
What you see in the picture is me and my wife Karen having uncovered the old 'well'. We got to about 1ft deep in water then stopped. A the botom is ca. 1" stone chippings from when it was filled in.
There is another old 'well' (from pre 1950s) about two miles away which has been preserved by the owner of the land. It has been hand dug and lined with stone and there is about 10ft of water in there. It is covered with a large stone slab and people used to just come and dip their buckets into it.
What I don't know from my own 'well' is whether the stone sides are still in-tact. I assume not, at least on one side definitely, because I found the 'well' by digging back along a drainage trench where it had been drained into a ditch at the edge of the field when the mains water arrived in the town in the 1950s.
So, I suppose I'll have to keep digging down, and bailing out water, and then put some concrete rings down. I'll have a look at the links (thanks). I can't find anything relevant on Youtube though.

# Posted: 16 Oct 2020 10:05

This might help:

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