Colin Steer from Plymouth, Devon, England discovered the 500-year-old well ten years ago after noticing a dip in the floor while redecorating – and he has spent the last decade digging it out. Steer found the well while redecorating the living room of his home. He noticed a dip in the floor while carrying out DIY, which led him to uncover the well. While digging it out, Steer found what he thinks is the leather casing of a sword, which he believes could date the structure to the 1500s.
Colin Steer found a 500-year-old, 17-foot-deep well under his living room
“Around 10 years ago we were doing some decorating and I was replacing floor joists when I noticed the floor dipped near the bay window in our front room,” he said. “I immediately thought someone must have buried someone under there or that we had a sinkhole. Since that moment, I decided I was going to dig it out and see what I would find. The hole is currently 17ft deep and there is about another four or five-foot that I want to dig out when I eventually get round to it.”
Steer also found a coin from 1725 in the well while excavating, and believes the depth of the structure means it could have been used for feeding animals or up to three families. “It is a good thing to show off to people as it is not something that you see everyday,” he said. “We still aren’t really sure about why the well is there. We have looked at old maps to try and work out its origin but we have had no luck. But because of the sheer size of it, we have guessed that it could have been used for feeding animals or for two to three families. Since I began digging out the well I have found a coin from 1725.” Steer adds, “I have actually even tried some of the water that is at the bottom of the well. It was really clear and tasted fine to me. I am going to get it tested for bacteria and if everything came back good then I could even bottle it up and sell it.”
According to researchers, this 500-year-old well belonged to a wealthy or noble family, because only high-status families could afford their own private well – most likely in the basement of your house, during medieval and late medieval times. Because, it was common for external wells to be poisoned in Medieval times, which is why castles would have them built internally. It could take decades to construct the well but it was worth the wait to have your own clean water. To prevent the well from collapsing, some were lined with stones, bricks, or wood. Researchers also stated that, according to the preservation status of this well, it looks that the well was regularly maintained, to keep functional for long. It also involved periodic cleaning to remove debris, prevent contamination and maintain the quality of the water.