A Medieval Well Found in Plymouth, UK

Deep Well

After moving into a Victorian home in Plymouth, Devon, homeowners Colin and Vanessa Steer noticed an indentation in their living room floor. During a routine home renovation project to replace the floor joists, however, Colin discovered that the indentation was caused by a well. Although it was years before he excavated the strange find, when Colin finally decided to explore the mystery shaft, he discovered it was much more than he had first imagined.

The Well

The well shaft beneath the Steers’ living room floor is approximately 30 inches in diameter and is suspected to reach 33 feet in depth, although Colin stopped digging when he reached a depth of 17 feet in three days. Site plans indicate that the well could date back to the 16th century, when a watercourse called Drake’s Leat, built by Sir Francis Drake, was established in the area in order to transport water from Dartmoor’s River Meavy into Plymouth. The leat was one of England’s first municipal water supply projects and reached a final length of 17.5 miles. Since the excavation of the well, Colin has installed lights in the exposed shaft and placed a trapdoor in the living room floor so the well doesn’t pose a hazard to those in the house.

The Sword

While excavating the well, Colin Steer also found an old sword hidden inside the debris filling the shaft. According to Colin, it was lodged in the wall at a 45-degree angle and fell out as he and a friend were hauling debris away during the digging process. The sword appears to be fabricated from various types of metal, marking it as a peasant’s weapon; however, the sword has not yet been dated.

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