This paper examines the holy well as a representative therapeutic landscape with a particular focus on linking a traditional setting with contemporary theory associated with the 'performative turn'. This is developed within the paper to suggest a new theoretical model of the 'therapeutic assemblage' containing material, metaphoric and inhabited dimensions. Drawing empirical evidence from Irish holy wells, complex holistic performances of health are identified within such settings. Deeper associations with more-than-representational theory suggest new directions in the study of therapeutic landscapes to uncover the importance of cultural practice and lay narratives of healing in the creation of healthy place. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.