In England, near the town of Knaresborough, on the banks of the River Nidd sits one of the oldest tourist attractions in England. A well — its sides resembling a giant’s skull — draws the courageous and deters the cautious, as it was once believed that anything the water touches will turn to stone.
The powers of the well caused many to believe that it had been cursed by the devil. Any object that had been touched by the water, whether it was leaves, sticks or even a dead bird, was turned to stone. Most people avoided the well for fear of turning into stone themselves. Other, more courageous inquisitives would start to leave everyday objects near the waterfall, so they could watch as they turned to stone in just a few weeks.
However, there’s nothing supernatural about the petrification process – it’s actually caused by the water’s high mineral content.
It’s made up of tufa and travertine rock, which gives all objects that touch the well’s water a stone-like appearance after several months. It’s a similar process to that which creates stalactites and stalagmites, but one that happens much more quickly.
The most popular items are the teddy bears, which take anywhere between three to five months to petrify.
It’s not uncommon for staff to place small teddy bears under the water, and then, once they solidify, nearby souvenir shops sell them.
The earliest written reference to the well dates back to 1538 when John Leyland, who was a student of Henry VII, visited for the first time.
He noticed that many locals drank from and showered under the water, as they thought it to have miraculous healing powers. However, people have since discovered that drinking water with such high mineral content is unsafe.
The petrifying well has grown in popularity over the years. Many visit just to take in the unusual sights, while others leave behind items with the hopes of revisiting to see their transformation. Visitors have left behind rings, clothing, toys, kitchen utensils and even a bicycle.
Photo Credits: picturesofengland.com