The changing world from the reformation and dissolution of the monasteries to the beginning of the 19th century was described through the superb maps available for the Peninsula, from the County Palatine Map of Christopher Saxton in 1577 to the first OS map in 1850. Saxton’s map was decorative, and attempted to show topography. The coastline was taken at low tide, indicating the sands crossing route. At that time there was little woodland in our area, in contrast to the extensive woodland to the north where there was a charcoal industry. Subsequent maps for a while tended to copy Saxton, eg John Speed. Around 1665, John Bleau published a map in Amsterdam, with some peculiar spelling eg Flokesbarro, and with the locations of Cart Lane Village, Gowborn Head (Humphrey Head), Waysholm towre, Wynder, Howker and Hamfeld Hall.
Yates’s 1786 prize-winning map is the first ‘proper’ map (1” to the mile). It was more effective in showing different aspects of the landscape (mosses, small patches of woodland and enclosures) and the townships with Cartmel, the market town, at the centre. Sponsors were named eg John Wilkinson’s improved moss. Even by this time Cartmel was still relatively cut off, until the turnpike road and railway were completed by the middle of the 19th century.
Richard Keurden produced very detailed maps in 1684 of the main routes in Lancashire, including the area north of the sands which were never printed or published. His survey of the main roads showed properties and distances in furlongs. Alan showed the map from Sandgate and Flookburgh to Allithwaite past Utterthwaite Hall.
The importance of Cartmel for travellers and as a market town was demonstrated in a survey by the War Office in 1686 of guest beds and stables, Cartmel being the 12th in the ranking for Lancashire with 26 guest bed and 57 stable places, ahead of Ulverston in 17th place.
The relative importance between Flookburgh and Cartmel Markets was discussed. It is known that William Marshall prescribed Cartmel for markets in 1292, Flookburgh’s charter was originally granted in 1412 and regranted for a second time in 1663, but still it appears that it was unsuccessful. There were disputes between the two settlements, the claim of Churchtown in 1690 of weekly markets beyond the memory of man was disputed by the residents of Flookburgh. Similarly, in 1721, Flookburgh claimed market affairs were held since time began! In 1725 the Bishop of Chester reported that Flookburgh had neither maintained a market or fair. In 1731, Sir Thomas Lowther granted Cartmel its only market charter.
Alan showed Paul Hindle’s map of developing routes, including the cross sands route and the turnpike road up to Kendale and across to Crosthwaite and down to Newby Bridge. Despite the turnpike route being safer the dangerous cross sands route remained well used because it was shorter and importantly it was free.
In the 18th century, industry started to appear on maps, eg on Yates’s map, there were details of the extensive iron works and other industries at Backbarrow. Alan showed an Indenture dated 1709 from Elizabeth Preston to Maychell for charcoal fired forges at Cartmel and Backbarrow and the right to explore for iron ore for a yearly rent of £28. She agreed to supply 300 loads of charcoal to Maychell. This was a renewal of the first agreement dated 1691. Iron Ore was not found in quantity in the Peninsula which saved the area’s landscape. In 1796, at the time of the enclosures the new land owners were granted mineral rights as an encouragement for the tenants to occupy the poorest land.
Alan concluded by showing a plan of the sea embankments of 1797, 1807 and 1828, and his lovely map showing the original coastline before the establishment and drainage of the marshes overlaid onto a modern map. Notably Humphrey head was an island! And then he presented data from the Agriculture Board Returns of crops showing a time-honoured diet (in acres): Oats 1586, Barley 659, Wheat 382, Potatoes 167, Rape 58, Peas 23 & Beans 7 from a total of 8000 acres.
Phil Rowland March 2020
Dr Colin Penny, the museum manager of Lancaster Castle, gave a fascinating talk on the history of the castle. The talk included the history of the buildings and the medieval kings, the small part it played in civil wars and the prominence of the castle in law and order through the centuries. In addition Dr Penny talked about the people associated with the castle and provided many anecdotes relating to the castle.
Due to the strategic point of castle hill, the Romans had a fort there in AD74 and the Normans built the first castle in 1093. The Duchy of Lancaster, including Lancaster Castle continues to belong to the reigning monarch.
In 1166, under Henry 11 the castle became the centre of an area from Liverpool to Furness where judges took trials every March and August. The castle thus became a prison where people were held until trial. Dr Penny described how the prison system changed over time and the prison closed in 2011, the oldest continually used prison in Europe.
Dr Penny also touched on the Pendle witches and the Peterloo organiser Henry Hunt who were all tried at Lancaster Castle.
Peter Roebuck gave a superb talk on “Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900”. He explained why they were driven (because they were too big to be carried), and their value. Cattle provided materials for making leather, glue and tallow, as well as meat and dairy products. Organised droving could only begin once reiving had been almost eliminated in the early 1600s.
Most cattle came from Galloway and were driven about 60-100 miles then sold on as most drovers only knew the routes, inns etc in their local area. Strenuous days were followed by easy days to allow cattle to recover, and the outer parts of their hooves were shod.
During the C17 the trade was bolstered by supplying the armed forces who required beef rations for the men as well as huge quantities of shoe leather. The Navy carried live cattle. This booming trade helped businesses such as banks to be set up. When an outbreak of Rinderpest broke out in 1745 it did not reach Cumberland so that even more cattle were sold from this area.
Cattle droving declined with the growth of canals and railways from 1850s onwards.
We had a fascinating and light-hearted talk on what appears to be a rich regional heritage. Cumbria has many words such as bier roads, lyke roads, coffin lines, lych ways and corpse roads which have been used to describe more than 25 paths in Cumbria which were used in medieval times to transport the dead either in coffins or shrouds from their remote rural homes and parishes to the mother church of the parish. It was the mother church of the parish which had the right to bury the dead in consecrated land and they fought hard to keep this financial advantage but by the late sixteenth century parishes won the right to bury their dead themselves claiming the journey and the often harsh weather made transportation very difficult. The paths sometimes covering a distance of 20 miles had features along the way such as coffin rests and coffin crosses where the cortège would stop to read a prayer. The Victorian fascination of the supernatural popularised the many ghosts stories of the corpse roads that abounded at that time. Today they are quiet byways.
Dan Elsworth of Greenlane Archaeology gave a very interesting talk on his involvement with two archaeological excavations which took place in Allithwaite in 2001 and in 2015. He began bydrawing our attention to previous references and finds mentioned in Stockdale’s Annals of Cartmel. This find was at the time thought to be Roman and was described as having zig zag patterning and was attributed to a location on Aysome road, Cartmel near a Yew Tree. However, later writings by Watkins may have led to a certain amount of confusion to the precise location of the earlier discoveries and as a result the Parish of Allithwaite became Allithwaite village. In this way Allithwaite village became a site of archaeological significance.
Dan explained that the standard practice when a planning application has been submitted in an area known to have a history of archaeological artefacts, is to carry out archaeological excavations before building work takes place. Thus two sites : one in Church Road (2001) and the other in Jack Hill (2015) have been successfully excavated but several Bronze Age and not Roman urns ( also with zig zag patterning resembling the description by Stockdale of the earlier find) of differing sizes and conditions along with some flints were excavated and are presently with Kendal Museum awaiting display.
Dan explained how a number of random trenches are dug in order to sample a site and in both the Allithwaite diggings the first trench dug successfully revealed urn cremations which had in some cases used the natural hollows in the limestone. The bones found were able to indicate gender, age and bone diseases such as osteoporosis. With the aid of cling film and plaster of Paris bandages, the urns were removed from the ground and ready for further specialised investigation. The two sites resulted in artefacts from as early as 2020 BC in the Church road site and 1800 BC in the Jack Hill site and Allithwaite is the only place to have two sites of Bronze Age artefacts in Cumbria.
Mary Hamilton (Arnside Archive) and Alistair Simpson (Arnside Sailing Club) shared the story of over 150 years of boat building by the Crossfield family and their successors in Arnside with Society members and visitors. The Archive and the Sailing Club worked together on research and a joint exhibition in July 2018 celebrating Arnside’s maritime heritage.
When carpenter John Crossfield moved to Arnside in the 1810s it was a small village and by 1841 there were still only 20 dwellings. John and his sons established a boat yard and over the years they and their descendants designed & built a range of boats including Nobbies (Morecambe Bay Prawners), Bay boats (for boat trips), a pleasure steamer for Lake Windermere, yachts, dinghies, rowing boats and Arthur Ransome’s Swallow. Some of their boats have been restored and still sail including Bonita (built in 1888 and sailed round Britain in 2013), Ziska (built in 1903, now in America) and Moya (built in 1910 and now in Greece). The Arnside Sailing Club, with the assistance of lottery funding, bought and restored the Severn (originally built by Crossfields in 1912) and returned it to Arnside.
Many members and a few visitors came to the March meeting to hear about Catching Tales, Fishing Stories from Morecambe Bay presented by Michelle Cooper of Morecambe Bay Partnership. She played extracts of sound recordings that have been gathered over the past 4 years. On the day of the talk she had delivered the master discs containing the memories of about 60 people who have contributed about 150 to 200 hours of conversation to Lancashire Archives, Preston and another set will be deposited with Cumbria Archives, Barrow for long term preservation. Interviews have been conducted with fishing families around the Bay and in particular from Flookburgh, Morecambe and Sunderland Point. Under the headings of Across the Generations, Fishing Methods, Rivalry, Dangers, Wildlife and Nicknames we heard how skills were passed from generation to generation; using horses and how their replacement by tractors changed fishing; how to catch and sort shrimps; making nets; competitiveness and friendship between the fishermen; elephants bathing off Blackpool; and a record of some of the nicknames given to the fishermen. One lady also recounted her experiences of fishing. We were given an insight into a magical world.
Richard Sanderson gave a talk to a packed Cartmel village hall on the history and future of Backbarrow Ironworks. Richard talked about the long history of iron production in the area, using bloomeries. He then explained the important history of Backbarrow ironworks, described by Historic England as “…the best illustration nationally of iron-smelting technology development from the early 18thto the 20thcentury.” John Wilkinson’s father, Isaac, moved to Backbarrow in the 1720s and pioneered new metallurgical processes and John will have learned from him.
At most, 18 people worked there and the last blast was in 1964. The metal was taken away for scrap and the trustees are now attempting to preserve and conserve the site for the future. Richard illustrated his talk with photographs of the site when it was in use and the remnants that are spread around the site.
The trustees are working with many bodies, including Historic England, and would like further support from industries and local history societies. They would like to hear from anyone who has memories of the ironworks and hope to provide conducted tours of the site in the near future.
Louise Martin, the Cultural Heritage Officer for the Headlands to Headspace initiative within the Morecambe Bay Partnership, was our September speaker. Louise presented examples of the recent archeological work; Barrow’s Military History on Walney Island, Gleaston Castle, three sites on Birkrigg Common, Hampsfell Hospice and Kirkland Tower, two sites at Jenny Barrows Point, and Warton Craggs on the south shore of the Bay. For each site available documentary evidence had been brought together and detailed recording carried out using ground survey, aerial photography using drones and geophysical surveys. One use of the data was to create dramatic 3D images. An archeological dig had been carried out at Jenny Brown’’s point. Conservation assessments were carried out and necessary restoration work identified. The projects were often carried out in partnership with Universities and all involved volunteers. Training was a key element in all the projects. The report for all the projects would be available on line.
The Walney sites included pillboxes, searchlight emplacements and gun battery foundations. At Gleaston Castle the surveys had shown an earlier tower near the thirteenth century manorial buildings, and the location of enclosing walls. The Birkrigg work had involved three sites on the Common. A major task had involved bracken removal both to reveal and protect the stone circles protect: 40 ton bags of bracken were removed in 2015. At Appleby Slack a small living enclosure and a larger stock enclosure had been identified. Documentary evidence and old photographs had been brought together for Hampsfell Hospice and Kirkhead Tower and condition assessments carried out. The chimney at Jenny Brown’s Point was shown to be associated with a calcining furnace linked to possible copper mining. A large embankment running 2km into the Bay was the remnants of a failed land restoration scheme. LIDAR had been used at Warton Craggs to clearly show the three series of remparts whish are masked by trees. They are probably hill top enclosures rather than a hill fort.