LAY OF THE LAND

The Broxa Spring – Broxa

Broxa1

The hamlet of Broxa is located five miles to the west of Scarborough.

Take a look at any OS map and it will usually mark the location of several wells and springs. Many of these will be unnamed, while a few will have descriptive names such as the ‘Cold Well’, or perhaps refer to the owner e.g. ‘Peggy West’s Well’. Rarer still are those marked as holy wells, or with names referring to some folklore character such as ‘Robin Hood’s Well’. A small number of springs and wells are named after their location or the nearest village, which might not be unexpected, however in some cases the ‘village well’ naming seems to point to the well having some unusual property. The Ebbing and Flowing Well at Giggleswick was referred to in an old document as the ‘Giggleswick Spring’. ‘Redmire well’ was a healing sulphur spring, Cawton spring well is a holy well, Newtondale Spring is an very impressive chalybeate spring. This type of naming seems to point to a ‘special’ spring which the village was known for over a wider local area. When ‘Broxa Spring’ was noted on the OS map it was decided to visit the site and test this theory.

The modern OS map shows a stream flowing down a wooded hillside from the Broxa Spring, so the intention was to walk along the bottom of the hill, find the stream, and follow it up through the trees to reach the spring. However, no obvious stream could be identified, so a scramble up the steep bank was required. A search through the undergrowth at the map reference for the spring also drew a blank, and suggested that the water may have dried up. A fallen tree, along with a dense area of nettles and brambles blocked any further progress up the wooded hillside, and it was tempting to turn back and call it a day. Not wanting to give up so easily it was decided to try and pick a way around the worst of the obstacles and undergrowth, and this was soon rewarded with the sight of water running down the slope. The large fallen tree had toppled over, roots and all, because the ground was so saturated at this location. It could also be seen that the hill side higher up was covered by a large spread of petrified mineral Tufa – deposited by the water running from the spring higher up the slope. Ascending further up this Tufa ‘cascade’ finally revealed a large circular walled pool beneath the trees.

Finding this hidden walled pool was a little bizarre, and provoked a moment of puzzlement – why would any one go to the trouble of building a brick wall around a petrifying spring? Was it some kind of large bath for bathing in the mineral waters? The answer to this question is likely to be a little more utilitarian. The older OS maps mark a Hydraulic Ram just down the hill from the pool, and so it seems likely that the pool was built to create a large volume of water to power this ram, which probably pumped water up to the village. The first edition OS map (1854) just shows Broxa Spring in its natural state with just the stream flowing from it. By the time of the 1890 edition map the spring had been walled around to feed the pump supplying the village on the hill top above.

‘Broxa Spring’ as shown on the earlier map was indeed a ‘special’ spring – producing a large volume of water with unusual ‘petrifying’ properties. This water has flowed down the hillside for many years, perhaps centuries, and created a wide Tufa ‘cascade’ built up from the minerals in the water. This alone would have been an unusual sight, but in addition, this type of mineral water was also once believed to have healing properties, and so it is quite possible that the Broxa Spring was regarded as a healing well in the past. That the spring was later used for a water supply only emphasises the amount of water the spring produces. Today the pool is no longer in use, and a hole in the wall allows the water to run down the hill as it did in the past. The wide spread of mineral Tufa is covered in moss and grass in places and is still an impressive sight.

Inside the pool
Water still flowing
Huge 'cascade' built up from mineral deposits
The deep layer of petrified mineral
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Inside the pool
Water still flowing
Huge ‘cascade’ built up from mineral deposits
The deep layer of petrified mineral
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