This section is from the book "A Library Of Wonders And Curiosities Found In Nature And Art, Science And Literature", by I. Platt. Also available from Amazon: A library of wonders and curiosities.
Now follows an account of Pitch-Wells; from Dr. Holland's Travels in the Ionian Isles, etc. - "The pitch-wells of Zante are a natural phenomenon, which may be regarded as among the antiquities of the isle; since they were known and described as early as the time of Herodotus, and are men tioned since by Pausanias, Pliny, and other authors They are situated about ten miles from the city, and near the shore of the bay, on the southern side of the island. We visited this spot, which is called Chieri, a day or two after our arri-val in Zante. A small tract of marshy ground, stretching down to the sea, and surrounded on other sides by low eminences of limestone, or a bituminous shale, is the immediate situation of the springs; they are found in three or four different places of the morass, appearing as small pools, the sides and bottom of which are thickly lined with petroleum, in a viscid state, and, by agitation, easily raised in large flakes to the surface. The most remarkable of these pools is one of a circular form, about fifty feet in circumference, and a few feet in depth, in which the petroleum has accumulated to a considerable quantity. The water of the spring, which is doubtless the means of conveying the mineral upwards to the surface, forms a small stream from the pool, sensibly impregnated with bituminous matter, which it deposits in parts as it flows through the morass: the other pools are of similar character. The petroleum is collected generally once in the year; and the average quantity obtained from the springs is said to be about 100 barrels: it is chiefly used for the caulking of vessels, not being found to answer equally well for cordage."