The holy well of St Columba

Holy Well or Sacred Spring in Cornwall.

The legend of Saint Columba, the Virgin, is recorded in a manuscript in the University Library of Cambridge, written by Nicholas Roscarrock in the reign of Elizabeth I and he says he gathered it from local information.

The document states that Columba was the daughter of King Lodan and Queen Manigild, both pagans. She became a Christian when the Holy Ghost appeared to her in the form of a dove. The Latin word for dove is ‘columba’. When she refused to marry a pagan prince, her parents had her imprisoned. She escaped with the help of an angel and took ship for Cornwall but was followed by the prince. She landed at Trevelgue Head and was pursued through the forest which is now Porth Beach, and fled up the valley, past Rialton and Treloy until she was captured at Ruthvoes, two miles south of St Columb Major. There the prince cut off her head, and where the blood fell a spring gushed forth and the water following the course of her flight made the still unnamed river which empties itself at St Columb Porth.

Ruthvoes’ meaning derives from “red bank”, whose red soil may have suggested the location and manner of the martyrdom.



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