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The preserved Wellheads can be found punctuated down the Royal Mile in:

THE LAWNMARKET
THE HIGH STREET

THE NETHERBOW
THE CANONGATE

THE WELLHEADS

Until 1820 these square stone well heads
were the only means by which the thousands of Old Town inhabitants could access water.

The source of this supply, Castlehill Resevoir (1681) was replaced by a new system in 1851. The 1.7 million gallon capacity was fed by springs from the Pentland Hills.

Narrow necked buckets called ‘stoups’ were used to collect and contain water and a ‘girr’ used as a means of providing stability to the carrier. ‘Caddies’, who offered a delivery service carried it in a purpose built barrel strapped to the back.

Castlehill Resevoir was decommissioned in 1992 and is now converted to a unique working tartan mill in the old town.

The council would ration the water when it was in short supply during the summer months. This meant that local residents could only use the wells between midnight and 3 a.m. The wellheads were a place were locals would gather and gossip in the queues and fighting were commonplace.

 

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