St. Columba was a 6th-century Irish abbot and evangelist who converted the Picts of Scotland to Christianity. He traveled from Ireland to Scotland in 563 CE and founded a monastery on the Island of Iona. From there, he spent 32 years traveling throughout Northern Scotland, proselytizing and leaving miracles in his wake. Although best known for his legendary encounter with the Loch Ness Monster, Columba is also credited with purifying a well of poisonous water in what is now the village of Invermoriston, Scotland.
In about 565 CE, Columba traveled up the Great Glen to visit Brude, a leader of the Picts, to convert him to Christianity. Brude’s Court was near Inverness. While in the area, Columba founded a church at Invermoriston on the northwestern side of Loch Ness. The church is long gone, but there remains a holy well that Columba blessed near the site.
Locals believed the water in the well was poisonous and claimed that the area around the water harbored evil spirits. The water allegedly burned the skin and caused blisters and boils if touched. After Columba blessed the well and banished the evil spirits, the water became pure.
He resourcefully used the well as a baptismal font for his Christian conversions. Following Columba’s departure from the area, people claimed the well water possessed mystical healing properties, and it purportedly cured maladies ranging from rheumatism and infertility to hangovers. The well became known as Fuaran Choluim Chille or St. Columba’s Well.
The well is a square stone basin filled by an underground source. “St Columba’s Well” is inscribed on a stone at its head. High stone walls surround the well, which can be seen today from a wooden platform installed several feet above it. The actual holy well is inaccessible, so it is now impossible to test the water’s curative properties.
Know Before You Go
There is a signed archway opposite the visitors' car park beside the Invermoriston Village Hall. Cross the road from the car park, go through the arch, and descend a flight of steps to a wooden walkway and viewing platform above the well.