There is a natural well with a waterfall in North Yorkshire, near Knaresborough in the UK, that was once considered cursed by the devil. Objects that came in contact with the water turned to stone! Of course, no one wanted to touch the water, lest they be turned to stone, too. Although there were plenty of supernatural legends associated with the well and nearby Mother Shipton’s Cave, the part about turning to stone was true. Not people, obviously, but anything left in the water stream for some time became petrified. More adventurous people began hanging objects at the fountain deliberately.
Eventually, scientific analysis of the water revealed the magic behind the petrification process. The water has high mineral content that precipitates over objects creating a hard shell of mineral over it in much the same way as stalactites and stalagmites form in a cave. What’s amazing, however, is the speed at which petrification occurred. Rather than centuries, small toys like teddy bears can petrify in just three to five months. Teddy bears are popular because they are porous which allows water to soak in and petrify the toy inside out. Other have left personal items such as rings and clothing, kitchen utensils, and even a bicycle.
King Charles I sold the well to a private owner in 1630, who opened it as a tourist attraction and charged for guided tours. Almost 400 years later, it’s still operated as a tourist attraction, part of Mother Shipton’s Park. Read the legend behind the park and see more pictures of the Petrifying Well at Amusing Planet. Yes, even the bicycle. -via Ralph Roberts
(Image credit: Flickr user Anne)