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Springs and Wells of Oltenia



Springs and wells are an important part of Romanian culture. They seem to have an importance out of all proportion to the mere fact of obtaining life giving water - they seem to have a religious significance as well, and form an important part of the life of Romanian villages.









spring spring

Near Bilta village in Dolj County, there is an old water source called Fantana Cu Leacuri, well known for its health giving properties. Many people from the village come here to drink the water, which they believe has special qualities for improving their life.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 10th May 2014



spring spring

A while ago, this wonderful place, located on a hill near the village in a beautiful landscape was renovated through the efforts of locals, and now looks like a wonderful natural area, a good place for tourists to visit and spend a night there in a tent, in the middle of nature.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 10th May 2014








Desa area well Desa area well
In the Desa area, on the left bank of the Danube River, Adrian came across this beautiful well, in the middle of a field.

It is of the type known in the english language as a whip, used where the well is too deep for a windlass, with a handle and a rope fixed to a cylinder above the well.

The wooden structure behind the whip may be to limit the height of the bucket above the ground, and perhaps a rope is fixed to this structure to hold the bucket at the right height while the user tips the water into the animal trough.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 12th June 2011



Desa area well
There are a few of this type of well in the area, the underground water level is not too deep, and the water is very good for animals.

The well has been constructed and maintained in a good condition. The bucket is raised and lowered using a hand made iron chain fixed to the wooden pole, which is cheap and very reliable.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 12th June 2011








Salcuta well
Near Salcuta village, in Dolj County, there is a ghost water source, at 44.23986° N, 23.39839° E, Alt. 180 metres.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th May 2010



Salcuta well
It is very deep, and is made of concrete, without the date of construction, but a very beautiful well.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th May 2010



Salcuta well
In Oltenia there area many sources of water, put at cross-roads, even in a plain field, to be used by travellers, but, at the same time as a memory of a dead relative of the owner.

There are many different kinds of water sources, made of wood, concrete and stone, often with an inscription giving the year of construction as well as the owner's name, or a group of owners.

Many of them are ghosts today, destroyed by time and sometimes by people.

We can meet these wells in the field, at the edge of the forest, or deep inside it, sometimes with a small wooden table and chairs around it.

Sometimes there is a picture or a statue of a saint near the well, or sometimes a small wooden fence around it, to protect it from animals.

Sometimes a source of water is added to provide drinking water for animals such as cows and horses in addition to the main source of water.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 30th May 2010



Baba Lupa Baba Lupa
In orasul Calafat, chiar pe malul Dunarii, echipa Alexis Project a vizitat un alt monument, vechiul izvor Baba Lupa.

In the city of Calafat, on the bank of the Danube river, the Alexis Project Team visited another monument, the old spring Baba Lupa, renovated and restored in 1998. Baba Lupa translates literally as "Old Woman's magnifying glass".

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 22nd June 2008



Spring
Spring in Gorj County.

Here the metal chain used to raise the bucket of water from the well has stained the windlass with rust. An old wagon wheel has been attached to the windlass to raise and lower the bucket. The well has been recently painted, and seems well looked after in general, with a good weather proof roof. There are crosses beneath this roof in memory of the dead.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



Spring
Spring in Gorj County.

This spring is very similar in design to the one above, although not as well looked after. Note the "bridge" near the well which is a common feature of such wells. This bridge signifies crossing the Styx after death.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



Spring
Spring in Gorj County.

This well is similar to the two above, with a wagon wheel as a method of raising and lowering the bucket, and the bridge near the well.

There is a trough nearby for watering animals.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



Spring
Spring in Gorj County.

This well is in poor condition, without a windlass or fence, but there can be seen a stylised horse head under the roof, as is often the case at such water sources.

In addition, there is a trough for watering animals connected by a pipe to the well, into which water is easily put by means of a small sink inside the main well.

The fence has been removed, and can be seen leaning against the house fence, to the left of the photo. It may be that the well is in the process of restoration.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



Capu Dealului Spring
O foarte veche fantina din lemn la CAPU DEALULUI, judetul GORJ, cu cartare GPS :

Altitude: 117 meters N 44.62593° E 23.47748°

O vedere generala a fantanii, cu o punte de lemn in apropiere si fantana alaturi.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



In the village of Capu Dealului, Gorj County, is this very old source of water.

GPS points: Altitude: 117 meters N 44.62593° E 23.47748°

This is a general view, with a symbolic wooden bridge nearby, and the source itself.



Capu Dealului Spring
O vedere chiar linga fantana, este foarte interesant modul de a activa functionarea acesteia, deasemenea este facuta din lemn, fier si piatra, cum erau o data facute fantanile in Oltenia.

A close up of the well, with an interesting method of raising the bucket in the well, by way of an old wooden cart wheel with steel tyre on one end of the windlass, a more elegant solution than the normal crank to turn the windlass. Notice how the windlass has been reduced in diameter by the wear of use. The whole well is constructed of wood and iron and stone, as all old wells were in Oltenia.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



Capu Dealului Spring
In interiorul acoperisului fantanii se afla o multime de picturi bisericesti si cruci de lemn, foarte vechi deasemenea, pentru a proteja apa si a aminti despre oamenii care au construit-o.

Under the roof of the well there are a lot of very old religious paintings and wooden crosses, to protect the water source and to remember the people who made it.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



Capu Dealului Spring
Pe margine acoperisului, se afla o piesa de lemn care imi apare a schita CAPETE DE CAI (se poate observa capul si parul capului de cal), mai stilizat decit are BILTA capete de cai, dar foarte intersante, ca sa fie studiate de specialisti.

Dr Gheorghe writes:
"On the edge of the roof, there are wooden boards which seem to me to show horse heads, in the form of the head and the mane of the horse, more stylised than the wooden horse heads at Bilta, but very interesting for specialists to study."

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 26th May 2008



Bilta views


On the way to the small village of Schitu, between the hills at Bîlta's west border is a huge valley, where Adrian and Alina found another old water spring, called by them "Jesus' Spring". It is accessed by a symbolic foot bridge over the "Styx" river. The spring has been formed up using bricks, with text on it which is now unreadable, and there is a wooden cross behind it.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 19th April 2008




Salatruc Salatruc


At the exit from Salatruc, to the north, there is a water spring protected by a concrete cover, a Stiubei.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 5th April 2008




Salatruc


Near the spring is an old concrete dam, as the ancient Stiubei were made, a simple hole in the ground, protected in this case by a kind of dam around it. In olden times, the dam was made by wooden sticks.

This concrete dam has been gradually filled in by siltation of clay and earth, but part of it has been dug out so that the water can still be accessed, though formerly the pond behind the dam was much more extensive, as can be imagined from the shape and extent of the dam.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 5th April 2008




Spring Spring
Looking for horse heads, Adrian and Alina found, on the road between Bralostita and Schitu, in the Bita village direction, another spring, though not a very old one. It has an inscription in the concrete to remember the owner of it, who renovated it in 1976. The protective structure and roof above the well look much older than that.

Note that the bucket is placed on the chain and pulley so that the mechanical advantage is doubled. A pull of one metre on the chain results in the bucket being raised by only half a metre, which makes the heavy iron bucket full of water much easier to raise from the well.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 5th April 2008




Spring
Just near the water spring above, there is an old Stiubei, (A Stiubei is the capping of a small source of water) but made from sticks. Thus, even when the materials make an evolution, the methods are ancient still. This is one of the first steps in the Stiubei time–line: a simple hole into the ground, full of water coming from a nearest water-spring, but with wooden sticks placed in upper part of the hole,to make a protection against stones, earth and clay from the sides of the excavation filling the hole again.

It looks also as though someone has added some old sheets of galvanised iron behind the sticks at some point, to try to stop the hole filling with earth any further. The spring is now defunct.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 5th April 2008




Spring
Leaving Bîlta village and heading south, at about one kilometre from the village there is a wild area between hills and covered by forests, where there is an ancient water source known locally as "The Wonder Spring". It used to be believed that the water had wondrous properties for health. Dr Gheorghe took water samples from this spring, and found that although there were many minerals in the water, there was nothing otherwise special about it.

As at every water source in Oltenia, there is a wooden foot bridge here, over a very small river coming from the source, the same symbol of crossing the styx, in the name of the dead person for whom the source was made. It is interesting, however, that in Greek mythology, there was a boatman and a boat for crossing the styx, there was no bridge. It was once the custom to put a gold coin on each of the deceased's eyes, or one coin (a silver Obol) under their tongue, to pay the ferryman Charon to go across the Styx.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 13th April 2008




Spring
The water comes from two structures, each with its own source, made of painted bricks, and today almost not in use. Even so, the paint has been renewed relatively recently.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 13th April 2008




Spring Spring
Around the water source are four wooden crosses, to remember the dead person. Some are very old, and nearly destroyed by the passing of time.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 13th April 2008




Spring

This is a very old long iron table for dinner, covered by a wooden roof now in disrepair, for the tradition of dinners to remember the dead person from time to time. Today it is broken and forgotten by all.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 13th April 2008




Spring

At the entrance to the Gura Motrului village coming from Bîlta village, there is an interesting water spring, as shown here.

Notice also in this instance that there is a "whip" or long wooden pole used to raise and lower a bucket into the well.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 11th April 2008




Spring Spring
At the exit from Gura Motrului village to the Motru River there is another well, this time using a chain and a pulley to raise and lower the bucket. There are a lot of symbolic wooden foot bridges around the spring, and a lot of wooden crosses, honouring the memory of the deceased.

Most springs are placed at the intersection of roads (or the roads lead to the springs), inside villages, or outside them, but many are also placed in deep forests where it is hard otherwise to find water.

Most water sources have the same items: the water source, a cup for drinking the water, sometimes a trough for animals to drink, and always wooden crosses.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 11th April 2008




Spring
This is another "Valley of the Springs", not in Bîlta village, but in Ciocane village, part of the large village of Bralostita. All the spring housings are made of concrete, not wood as the Bîlta ones are, and appear to have been made on a small production line with the same molds.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 12th April 2008




Tutana
Well and bell group in the yard of Tutana Monastery.

Ansamblu fantana-clopot in curtea Manastirii Tutana.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 2007




racari
A spring, built in 1963, at the northern outskirts of Racarii de Sus.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe




Filiaşi GPS readings



Filiaşi GPS readings.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe 16th February 2008


Gura well

Well in Gura Motrului, a very small village on the western side of Bilta.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


Gura well

Well in Gura Motrului, a very small village on the western side of Bilta.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


West Bilta site

This well is one of several in the big forest about 1.5 km to the west of Bilta. A pole is used to bring water to the surface.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


West Bilta site

This shelter is at the site of a water source in the forest, close to the well above.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


springspring
Water sources such as these in the photo (which is also in the forest west of Bîlta) are usually put where a traveller needs them, deep in the forests or at the intersection of roads, or in the middle of a field - anywhere that it is hard for a traveller find water.

These water sources were built by moderately rich people in memory of a family member. Near every source is a cross, a kind of wooden cross, called here Troitza, and on it is written the name of the dead person and the name of the people who built the water source.

Those who drink water from the well must remember the soul of the deceased person, so the dead person can ... drink water, even after his/her death!!!.

Note also that the well or spring usually has a fence built around it to stop animals from fouling it, but the water trough extends outside the fence so that animals can drink from the spring as well.

The tradition here is, as well as this, to put crosses near a river, as can be seen near the Bîlta wooden bridge over Jiu river, to remind travellers about the soul of the dead people!

Also, near most water sources a table and chairs are often put for travellers for food and rest, a reason again to commemorate the soul of the dead person remembered there.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


West Bilta siteWest Bilta site

This well is called "the source of health". The old men from the village told Mr Gheorghe that the water from this source can bring health to anyone who drinks from it.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


Bilta well Bilta well Bilta well Bilta well

This spring is half way between Bîlta and Bralostita, to the east of Bîlta, at the bottom of a hill, on the right bank of the Jiu.

Written on the well is the name of the person who last fixed the well, Pavel, and the year, 1976, that the well was renovated.

It is a tradition in Oltenia to build wells for people and animals, as a memorial for the builder.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe




filishanofilishanofilishano
Filishano spring water from Bîlta, rebuilt by the authorities last year when the original stone with the inscription was broken and lost (?) and replaced with a new one.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe




well well well


well well Well



In Bîlta there are about a hundred springs, at the edge of the hills on the west side of village. There is a long range of hills starting from Craiova extending to the mountains to the north, on both sides of the Jiu river, each range of hills at about 1km distance from the river. Leading to every spring is a track for men and animals, both enjoy the water, which is very cold, clean and good. Sometimes around the spring a wooden fence is put up so that animals cannot foul the water.

The sign on the fenced well reads:

"This well gathers water from deep underground to refresh the passing traveller. It was built with the help of the engineer (illegible name)"

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe




Mammoth trip
A well at the entrance to Timiseni village.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe






Bilta site

At the entrance to the village of Meteu, on the right part of the road, to the north, is a source of water called "fintina lui Buliga", on a small hill as shown in the photo.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


well
This is the damaged well, also made of stone, from the three counties monument.

It is unfortunate that some people have removed anything of value, such as pieces of metal forming part of the monuments, in order to sell them.

An iron hoop can be seen in this photo, put there to strengthen the stone.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe




well and cross
Since the photo above was taken, further damage has been done to the well in order to remove iron to sell it for scrap.

Here is the well in relation to the cross.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe




well
Here can be seen the breaking of the top of the well in order to remove the iron hoop which was put there to strengthen the stone.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe


well
This shows clearly the inside of the well and the level to which water often rises.

Photo: Adrian Gheorghe








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This site is to publicise the history and culture of Romania, and displays information from the Alexis Project Association

Alexis Project Filiasi/Romania
RC J/263/230/2007 CIF 21464151
Email: alexis_project@yahoo.com




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This page last modified Monday, 14th July, 2014 09:23am


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