How did people construct wells before modern drilling and how dangerous was it?

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How did people construct wells before modern drilling and how dangerous was it?

In: Technology

Dig with a shovel. I’ve got an open well on my property that my great grandfather dug. He dug it with a shovel and shored up there walls with sandstone creek rocks as he went down. Some of the best water I’ve ever tasted. It’s about 4 feet in diameter and 30 or so feet deep.

[Here is a video of a hand dug well using bricks to reinforce](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuzDyFquyqw)

It was really quite simple. They start with a ring that is the size of the well and dig underneath it. As the ring drops into the hole, they add bricks or stones on top. They simply do this until they hit water.

My Great Great (etc) Uncle helped dig the [Big Well](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Well_(Kansas)) and its, well, a big well. Shovels, and a lot of time. I’ve been to the bottom of it a handful of times when I was a kid.

Can a well be dug anywhere or doe sit have to be close to the river/sea? And is the water purified by the surrounding earth?

In some places, with [lots and lots of stairs](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepwell#/media/File:ChandBaori.jpg) and to keep the water safe from people with poor balance or a fear of heights or drowning, [no guardrails](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepwell#/media/File:Hampi_aug09_243.jpg).

I wonder how many slinkies are at the bottoms of those.