This extensive parish, comprehending over 30,000 acres, lies partly between two branches of the river Lyne, called the Black and White Lyne, and is bounded on the north by Nichol Forest and Scotland; on the west by Stapleton parish; on the south by Lanercost, and on the east by Northumberland. It is comprised within Eskdale ward; Longtown petty sessional division, rural district, and poor law union; Brampton rural deanery, and county court district; and the county council electoral division of Longtown, E.
The following townships are embraced within the limits of the parish - Bewcastle, Bailey, Bellbank, and Nixons, which together contain 26,645 acres of land subject to assessment. The ratable value of the land is £7,463 and of the buildings, etc., £2,134; gross rental £10,609. Coal is found at Oakshaw, and limestone of good quality is abundant throughout the parish. Lead mines appear to have been formerly wrought within the parish, and several of the ancient workings may still he seen. Bewcastle, in common with other purely agricultural parishes not far removed from mining or manufacturing districts, has suffered a very marked decrease in its population during recent years. In 1841, the parish contained 1,274 inhabitants, and in 1881 there were only 889, showing a decrease of about 30 per cent. during that period, while the number at the present time only reaches a little over 600. Though the inhabitants are now as peaceable and as law-abiding as any within Her Majesty's dominions, yet formerly a very evil repute attached to them. Living in a remote part of the county, where it was difficult for the law, as administered in those days, to reach them, the people of Bewcastle lived a free and easy kind of Robin Hood life, plundering travellers and stealing cattle. Their evil reputation extended beyond the limits of the county; a bye-law of Newcastle prohibited the freemen of the borough from apprenticing any youth from Bewcastle. But those days are over. During the past year (1900) the city of Newcastle elected to the high office of mayor, a native of this formerly much despised place, in the person of Mr. John Beattie who was born here in 1844, and educated at the Hole Head School. In 1859, he was apprenticed to a travelling draper in Newcastle, and when five years later he commenced business on his own account he worked with such untiring energy and perseverance that in 1899 he was enabled to retire. He is now enjoying his present high position, the reward of his labours.
BEWCASTLE TOWNSHIP - The area and ratable value are included in the parish returns. Agriculture is the principal employment of the inhabitants. An attempt was made in 1848 to resuscitate the mining of lead, but though a diligent search was made for the metal, not a trace could be found. The eastern portion of the township approaching the Pennine Chain, contains some extensive moorlands covered with stunted heather. Towards the west the land is much more fertile, producing good crops of meadow hay and cereals.
The name of Bewcastle (i.e., Beuth's Castle) reminds us of the noble Saxon who owned the broad acres amidst which it stands, and who had here his residence; and another of the same family, Gill, possessed the adjoining barony, from whom it was named Gill's Land (Gilsland).
The Bueths were dispossessed by the Normans of their estates, which were given to William de Meschines; but he found it much more easy to obtain the grant than to get possession. Aided by their Scottish allies, they held possession by force of arms until the death of Gilbert, son of Bueth, in the reign of Henry II.
For the earliest history of Bewcastle we must sweep backward to the time when the mail-clad legions of Agricola were carrying their victorious arms northward beyond the confines of Britain. We read the history of the period not in musty chronicles and records, but in inscribed stones, altars, pottery, coins, &c., which have been unearthed in this spot. These all bear testimony of its occupation by the Romans, and their number and description point to Bewcastle as a station of no mean importance. Some writers claim for it an antiquity even greater than this, and suppose that the ancient Britons had an encampment here. This supposition appears to receive some confirmation from the presence of an old British road, now called the Maiden Way.*
The late Rev. John Maughan, rector of the parish, and an accomplished antiquary, devoted a great deal of his time to the elucidation of its ancient history, and to his pen we are indebted for the following information :
"The station at Bewcastle," he tells us, "was placed on the nearly level surface of a low and irregularly-shaped eminence, and occupied about six acres of ground. The walls, which may yet be traced, appear to have been of great thickness, and were protected by an outer rampart and fosse. The rectory house, out-offices, and garden occupy a portion of the southern side of the station, and the church and churchyard have been built upon its north side. Several traces of the foundations of ancient buildings occur in every part of the station, proving it to have been a place of considerable importance. Almost every grave that is made cuts through foundation walls. There are also several traces of flagging and pavements. Pieces of coal are often found, showing that they (the Romans) were probably acquainted with the coal mines of the district. From a stratum of ashes which is often found in the graves, about three feet below the surface, we may infer that the place has been destroyed by fire at some remote period." The castle, which Beuth the Saxon erected for his residence, stood at the north-east corner, and was probably built out of the materials of the station. It is now in ruins; and about 400 yards above the station, on the margin of the river, is a place called Cannon Holes, where Oliver Cromwell is said to have placed his cannon when he destroyed the castle.
"The camp appears to have been built according to the usual mode of castramentation. The streets, called Via Principalis and the Via Quintana, may be still accurately traced. The site of the prætorium, or generals' quarters, is very conspicuous, being nearly in the centre of the camp, at the north-west corner of the churchyard."
"Several altars and inscribed stones have been found here. Camden says he saw in the church, which was then almost ruinated, a stone inscribed 'Legio secunda Augusta fecit,' from which it appears that the second legion, styled Augusta, assisted in the creation of the fortress. Another stone, which is not now to be found, but which Horsley saw doing duty at the head of a grave, bore the following inscription :- Imperatori Cæsari Trajano Hadriano Augusta Legiones Secunda Augusta et Vicessima valens victrix sub Licinio Prisco Legato Augustali Proprætore," which may be thus translated :- The second legion, styled Augusta, and the twentieth legion, styled Valens Victrix, under Licinius Priscus, an Augustal Legate and Proprætor (dedicated this) to the Emperor Cæsar Trajan Hadrian Augustus.
These altars and inscribed slabs were often put by the inhabitants to the most ignoble uses. Hutchinson mentions one which he discovered bridging the channel at the gate of a public-house yard, and bore the following inscription :-
which is rendered "To Jupiter the best, the greatest, a centurion of the first cohort of the Dacians, styled Ællia, made this."
"Horsley mentions another stone found at this place, with TEMPLUM distinctly upon it, but says it was then broken and destroyed. In the spring of 1852, Mr. Maughan found the upper part of a Roman altar, which is probably the one to which Horsley alludes. It bears the following inscription:- 'Jovi Optimo Maximo Immortali Dolicheno Templum a solo pro.' It appears to have been dedicated 'To Jupiter Dolichenus the best, the greatest, the immortal,' on the erection of a temple, probably by the Roman workers in iron a solo, from the ground, i.e., from the foundation, pro salute, for the safety of some person whose name may have been inscribed on the part of the stone now broken off, as there appear to be some vestiges of letters in the fifth line underneath. Jupiter was sometimes styled Dolichenus, from Doliche, a district in Macedonia, famous for its iron. There can be no question that iron has been smelted here at some former period (probably by the Romans), as there are several heaps of slag in the district, showing where the operation has been carried on."
The latest discovery was in the autumn of 1898, when an altar was unearthed, bearing the following inscription:- "Deo Sancto Cocidio Q (Quintus). Peltrasius Maximus Tribunus Ex Corniculario Prefectorum Prætorii E.E.M.M.V.V. (Eminentisimorum Virorum Votum Libens Merito)," which, according to F. Haverfield, M.A., F.S.A., is translated thus:- "To the Holy God Cocidius, Quintus Peltrasius Maximus, Tribune, Clerk to their Eminencies the Prefects of the Prætorium, pays his vow willingly, deservedly."
Such are the vestiges which have been found at different periods, proving that Bewcastle was one of the garrisoned cities of the Romans. After the departure of the Roman warriors from Britain, about the beginning of the fifth century, it would most probably be re-tenanted by the inhabitants of the district, but they were not allowed to enjoy their own again for any length of time, as they were soon expelled by a colony of the Anglo-Saxon invaders, whose fortifications (before the inroads on the Roman Empire) were mere earthworks, as in their half nomadic state they had neither means nor motive for constructing any other; but their conquest and colonization of the greater part of Roman Britain put them in possession of a more solid class of fortifications, such as this at Bewcastle. We have no historic records of Bewcastle during this period, but the inscriptions on the Runic obelisk yet standing in the churchyard render it something more than probable that it was a royal residence in the seventh century, for it is unquestionably a monument pointing out the burial place of Alfred, one of the Anglo-Saxon kings of this part of the country.
About the time of the Norman Conquest, as before stated, Bewcastle was the residence and property of a powerful Saxon named Bueth. The lands and castle of Bueth were included in the grant of the barony of Gilsland to Hubert de Vallibus, in the year 1156 or thereabouts. But the Vaux family found it no easy matter to obtain possession of the lands of the disinherited Saxon. "None of them, we are told, durst inhabit there, so infested was the country with the friends and allies of the Bueths, who made it too hot for the Vauxes." The successor of Hubert de Vallibus or Vaux was Robert de Vaux, a man who figures prominently in the annals of the period. A legend, repeated in most of the county histories, stains his character with the foul crime of murder. Gilles Bueth, son or descendant of the Bueth before mentioned, claimed his patrimonial estates, and at a tryst at Castlesteads, where he had arranged for the settlement of the disputed claim, was murdered by Robert. This story was first related in the Denton MSS., but there appears to be no foundation for it. Hubert, the fifth baron, left an only daughter, by whose marriage with Thomas de Multon, lord of Burgh, Bewcastle came into possession of that family. From the Multons it passed to the Swinburnes, by whom it was held for several generations. Edward I, in the seventh year of his reign, granted to John Swinburne a charter for holding a market and fair here. In the reign of Edward II, Sir John Scrivener held the manor in right of his wife, the heiress of the Swinburnes, but it afterwards passed to the Crown, and was granted by Edward IV to his brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester. In the reign of Henry VII it was held by one Jack Musgrave; but James I, in 1615, demised it to Francis, earl of Cumberland, for the term of forty years, rendering for the same the yearly sum of £5. King Charles I, in 1630, granted it in consideration of £200, to Richard Graham, Knight, to be held by him and his heirs in capite by one entire knight's fee, and the annual payment of £7 10s. It is now a manor belonging to Sir Richard James Graham, Bart., of Netherby, who is also one of the most considerable landowners in the parish. The other proprietors are Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Broome, the heirs of Mr. John Tweddle, R. and F. Noble, the heirs of James H. Nicholson, J. and W. Henderson, James Robert Kyle, William and James Kyle, Robert Forster, Mrs. Burrow, Benson, and Forster, William Routledge Ewart, Stockton-on-Tees; Sir Joseph Ewart, Brighton; James and Joseph Elliot, William Musgrave, Longtown; William Ewart, William Maxwell, Houghton; Miss Mary Routledge, Stanwix; the Earl of Carlisle, William Routledge, W. Bell, Frederick Robert Brown, John Forrester, Croft, C.B. Hodgson, John Elliot, Newcastleton; heirs of Walter Irving, William Baty, Isabella and Mary Dodds, Miss Armstrong, Mrs. Graham, Mrs. Mary Goodfellow, Mrs. Barnes, Walter Cochrane, Esq., Lynehurst, Galashiels; Mrs. Waugh, London; John Armstrong, Westlinton; Mrs. Elizabeth Goodfellow, William and John Little, the Exors. of Richard Routledge, Chris. Routledge, Joseph Routledge, Rev. Thomas Dodgson, Leamington; William Thomas Routledge, William Coulson, William Beaty, Trustees of John Graham, William Little, William Forster, Arthur Forster, and William Lancaster, Culgaith.
The custom of the Manor was established, under a decree of Chancery, in the 6th Charles I. The following are the services as recited by Hutchinson:- "A fine of four years' ancient rent, on change of lord by death or alienation, with suit of court; and at the lord's mill, customary works and carriage, and other boons, duties, and services; and that for a heriot the lord shall have the best beast of which every tenant shall die possessed, the riding horse kept for the lord's service excepted. If the tenant has no beast he pays 20s. in lieu of the heriot. No tenant to let or mortgage his tenement for more than three years without license of the lord. The lord took a bounty of eight years' rent on giving his assent to the custom."
The Castle was destroyed in 1641 by the Parliamentary forces, and tradition has preserved the name of the spot where, it is said, Cromwell placed the guns with which the walls were dismantled. A portion of the outer walls is all that now remains of a fortress that once formed one of the most formidable barriers to the Scottish marauders. It appears to have been partly built out of the stones from the Roman station, and is eighty-seven feet square.
The Church stands at the extreme south-east end of the parish, on the site of the Roman station, where, it is supposed, there was at one time a considerable town. There appears to have been some doubt as to its dedication; Nicholson and Burn place it under the patronage of St. Cuthbert, and Hutchinson under St. Mary; but it is now invariably named after the northern saint. The present church is a plain structure, rebuilt in 1792-3, but a portion of the old chancel was incorporated in the present building. History is silent respecting its foundation, but we may reasonably ascribe to it a Saxon origin.
According to the testimony of Dr. Dodd, the advowson was given, about the year 1200, to the prior and convent of Carlisle by Robert de Buethcastre, by whom is probably meant Robert de Vallibus.
The benefice is a rectory, valued in the King's Book (compiled from an ecclesiastical survey made in the reign of Henry VIII) at £2. When Edward II was taxing church livings in order to raise money to carry on his inglorious wars, he found Bewcastle in such a state of impecuniosity that there was not sufficient income to pay the stipend of the parish priest. The living is now in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle, and is worth £170 a year. The tithes were commuted in 1842 for a yearly payment of £60 0s. 6d.; a rent charge of £20 a year was left by the late Sir James Graham; £26 a year is paid by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; £31 6s. 1d. is the produce of money invested in the Furness railway; and £16 a year from Queen Anne's Bounty. The benefice is now held by the Rev. Edward Walker, B.A., who was inducted in 1898.
In the churchyard is one of the most interesting archæological monuments which the vandalism of a past age and the corroding hand of time have permitted to exist down to the present day. It is a tall slender pillar nearly fifteen feet high, of a hard and durable white freestone, which has most probably been obtained from a ridge of rock on White Lyne common, five miles distant from the church. The obelisk is in form nearly the frustrum of a square pyramid resting upon an octagonal pedestal, and measuring at the base twenty-two inches by twenty-one, and tapering to fourteen inches by thirteen at the top. The pillar originally terminated in a cross, but this disappeared long ago, having been demolished, says one writer, by popular frenzy and enthusiasm. Local tradition, which is not always a satisfactory guide, attributes its demolition to a stray shot from the guns of Cromwell, but Mr. Maughan, from whose paper on the Bewcastle Cross these particulars are extracted, thinks that it was removed by Lord William Howard, the "Belted Will" of Border minstrelsy. The sides are profusely sculptured with runes and symbolism, which have been variously read and explained by different writers. Camden, who died in 1623, saw this cross, but failed in deciphering the inscription and sculptural ornamentation. He says: "In the churchyard is a cross of one entire square stone, about twenty feet high, and curiously cut; there is an inscription, too, but the letters are so dim that they are not legible. But seeing the cross is chequered like the armorial bearings of Vaux, one may conjecture that it has been made by some of that family." All our modern antiquaries, however, assign its construction to a period long anterior to the time when the family of Vallibus held sway in Gilsland and Bewcastle. Its runic lettering and style of ornament certainly point to the Anglo-Saxon age. Mr. Hutchinson observes that "the cross must, of necessity, be older than the time of the de Vaux, who do not figure in history until after the Norman Conquest"; and the late ingenious Mr. Howard, of Corby, accounts for the similarity of the chequer-work in the cross and the arms of de Vaux, by supposing that "the family of de Vallibus very possibly took their arms from this column, being one of the most remarkable things in the barony." This style of decoration was in use long before either a de Vallibus or even a Saxon set foot in this island. Cloths woven chequerwise, of which our Scottish plaids are perfect remains, were worn by the Ancient Britons; and their descendants, the inhabitants of Wales, are still passionately attached to the chequer pattern; indeed, so great is their veneration for their ancient emblem, that whenever a Welshman leaves his native mountains to reside in an English town, he is sure to carry this symbol along with him. A human figure in a chequered robe is sculptured on the side of an altar which was found in digging a cellar for the Grapes Inn, on the site of the Roman station at Carlisle, thus establishing the probability that the cheque was used among the Romans in Britain.
Each of the four sides of the monument is profusely sculptured: but the west side is the most interesting to the archæologist, as it contains a long inscription in runic characters, the interpretation of which reveals the origin of the column. It is thus read (substituting Roman letters for the runic) by the Rev. Mr. Maughan: + THISSIG BEACN THUN SETTON HWAETRED WAETHGAR ALWFWOLTHU AFT ALCFRITHU EAN KYNIING EAC OSWIUING + GEBID HEO SINNA SAWHULA, that is "This slender pillar Hwætred, Wæthgar, and Alwfwold set up in memory of Alefrid, a king and son of Oswy. Pray for them, their sins, their souls." The reader will observe that nearly all the above words (the proper names excepted) are still in use, though slightly altered, in modern English. Thissig has become this; beacn, a sign or token, is now beacon: thun is thin; setton, set; aft, is the root of after; ean is ane or yan, still used in the northern counties for one; kyniing has become king; gebid, the syllable ge is simply an expletive, and bid, to ask or pray, is still so used in "bidding to funerals"; sinna is now sins; and sawhula, souls, the vulgar pronunciation of which (sawl) is not far removed from the Anglo-Saxon.
If the reading offered by Mr. Maughan be correct then we may infer that king Alefrid, of whom the cross is commemorative, died at Bewcastle, and found his last resting-place within the precincts of God's Acre, and this is confirmed by the traditions of the district. Alefrid was king of Northumbria, a district including all the counties north of the Humber, and also those in the south of Scotland, and died about 664. Of the three noble Saxons, Hwætred, Wæthgar, and Alwfwold, who erected the monument nothing is known; but their request that future generations should pray for their souls proves the antiquity of that doctrine. Below the inscription is the figure of a man, habited in a gown which reaches to the middle of his legs, holding a bird, most probably a hawk, in his hand. Above are two figures which, from their indistinctness, are not easily determined. Bishop Nicholson conceived them to be the effigies of the Blessed Virgin and Child, but Mr. Maughan and later writers suppose them to represent John the Baptist and the Agnus Dei or Lamb of God. Below are the fragments of a Runic inscription, though in the Latin language, XGSSUS KRISTTUS, which, as is easily seen, signify Jesus Christ.
The south side of the cross is divided into five compartments, the lower, middle, and upper ones are filled with that kind of ornamentation known as knotwork, or as sometimes called magical knots. It consists of the most intricate interlacing or coiling of bands or twigs. This species of embellishment is known as Celtic or Hibernian, and was introduced into this country by Irish monks, thus placing early Britain under a tribute to Irish art. In the second compartment are two vines intersecting each other in graceful curves, and in "the fourth is another vine, in one of the curves of which a vertical sun-dial has been placed, somewhat resembling the dial placed over the Saxon porch on the south side of Bishopstone Church in Sussex, and also resembling the Saxon dial placed over the south porch of Kirkdale Church, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, a short description of which may be found at page 60 of the eleventh volume of the Archæological Journal. In the Bewcastle dial the principal divisions are marked by crosses, as on the forementioned dials, which are considered as examples of very early date, the Kirkdale dial having been made, as it is supposed, between the years of 1056 and 1065." Above the fifth compartment on this side is a fragment of a Runic inscription, but the portion now remaining, LICE, is too small and indefinite to afford any clew to the import of the original sentence. Between the compartments are traces of four inscriptions, which Mr. Maughan reads thus (substituting Roman letters for the Runic characters) - FRUMAN GEAR ECGFRITHU RICES THÆS KYNINGES, that is, "In the first year (of the reign) of Egfrid, king of this kingdom (Northumbria)." If this reading be correct it indicates most probably the year of the erection of the monument. Egfrid was a son of Oswy and brother of Alefrid, mentioned in the inscription on the west side, and ascended the throne of Northumbria in the year 670.
The north side is also divided into five compartments. In the highest and lowest are vines running in graceful curves and bearing foliage and fruit. "In the second and fourth divisions are two curiously-devised and intricately-twisted knots." The third division is filled with the chequer or diaper work previously mentioned. Be[t]ween the compartments are lines of Runes which are, however, now so indistinct that various readings have been offered. Mr. Maughan conceived them to be the following proper names, commencing with the lowest rune. - KYNNBURTHUG or Cyneburgo, the name of Alefrid's queen; KYNESWITHA, the sister of Cyneburgo; MYRCNA KYNG, i.e., king of the Mercians; and the uppermost rune WULFHERE, who was a son of Penda, brother of Cynburga, and king of Mercia.
On the east side, which, facing the church, has suffered less than the other three from the corroding effects of the weather, a vine is represented springing from the ground and running in graceful curves to the top. Branches, bearing bunches of grapes and foliage, start from the curves and run into spiral coils, on each of which sits an animal or bird, represented in the act of feeding on the fruit.
Adjoining the rectory is a small school, erected in 1855, but now only used as a Sunday school and parish room. The Bewcastle School Board, to which also Askerton in the adjoining parish of Lanercost is contributary, have a school at Park in this township. The Rev. John Cleathing, Leicestershire, bequeathed a considerable sum of money for the education of the children of the parish of Bewcastle, of which his mother was a native. The interest of the endowment, about £4 16s. 8d. a year, is used for the benefit of the Sunday school. There was here, a few years ago, another school supported by subscription and the custom of Whittle-gate. This was a privilege which the master enjoyed of entering the houses of those persons whose children he was educating, and living at free quarters. He carried his whittle with him, and was at liberty to help himself to whatever was prepared for family consumption.
At a place called Lowgrains or Low Grange, in this township, is a strong petrifying spring; and on the side of the Bulleleugh is another spring, the water of which is impregnated with iron.
There are two hills in the township called Black and White Preston, on the east end of Greyfell common, and another on the west end called the Pike. Here it was formerly customary for the inhabitants to assemble on Midsummer's eve and light bonfires which were called Tanliteens.
BAILEY TOWNSHIP. - This township contains about 11,248 acres, extending from two and a half to six miles, N.N.W. of Bewcastle. The ratable value of the land is £2,936, and of the buildings £778, and gross rental £4,083. Agriculture and sheep rearing are the only occupations of the inhabitants. The soil varies from a rich loam to the less productive moss of the moors, where the land is entirely devoted to sheep farming.
The Maiden way, described in a previous page, runs through the north-east part of the township; and not far distant is a tumulus or sepulchral mound, now known as Kemp or Camp Graves. There are indications of an ancient British camp in the vicinity, and this was probably the place of interment for the garrison. Another cairn, about 50 yards in circumference, may be seen at a short distance from the above-mentioned, where human bones, ancient coins, etc., have been found.
The township forms part of the manor of Nichol Forest, and belongs to Sir R.J. Graham, of Netherby. The estates are held under small yearly lord's rents, fines, and heriots; but most of the customary tenants have been enfranchised. The rolls of the manorial court extend over a period of 150 years.
A lofty range of craggy moorland stretches in a north-east direction through the township to the point where Cumberland, Scotland, and Northumberland unite. Several small streams have their origin in this elevation, but its appearance is both cold and cheerless. Stellshaw Lodge and Roans Green are shooting boxes; the former the property of Sir R.J. Graham, Bart,, and the latter of Walter Cochrane, Esq., Lyndhurst, Galashiels, who is also the owner of the extensive lands, Kershope, Kershope Head, and Black Lyne in this neighbourhood.
BELLBANK township contains five small hamlets called Kinkry Hill, Nether Oakshaw, Shaw Head, Oakshawford, and Road Head, but the people live chiefly in single houses scattered over the township. The ratable value of the land is £1,646, and of the buildings £778; gross rental, £4,083. A small seam of inferior coal occurs here, and is worked at Oakshawford; and a bed of clay at Kinkry Hill supplies material for the manufacture of drain tiles. The district is well adapted for the breeding and rearing of galloway and blue grey cattle and sheep. At Road Head a sale is conducted annually about the latter end of April by R. Harrison & Son, Carlisle, at which from 700 to 800 of the above-named cattle, and from 600 to 800 sheep are sold. This part of Cumberland is also noted for the breeding and rearing of greyhounds, 250 having been bred during this season alone by Dr. Rutherford Harris, Messrs. Fawcett, and other gentlemen. Highstone Common, which occupies a large portion of the interior of the township, was enclosed in 1815, and is now under cultivation. An old Roman road passed through the district in a north-west direction towards Scotland.
A school was erected at Kinkry Hill in 1855, in which divine service is performed every Sunday afternoon by the rector of Bewcastle. Bailey Board School is also in this township. It was opened on the 1st April, 1878, and is attended by about 80 children. The master's residence, close to, is a good house erected in 1894.
The township is part of the manor of Bewcastle, and is therefore subject to Sir R.J. Graham, Bart., of Netherby.
The Presbyterian Church, the only place of worship in the parish besides St. Cuthbert's Church, is a handsome Gothic structure, erected in 1891, at a cost of about £1,400, chiefly through the exertions of the present minister, the Rev. George C. Mossman. The new building replaces an older one which stood in Nixons township, and dated from 1790. The first minister was the Rev. William Lander, who held the appointment until his death in 1832. He furnished several important corrections to Hutchinson's History of Cumberland, and rescued the inhabitants from the obloquy cast upon them in the first volume of the work.
NIXONS township covers an area of over 4,000 acres, the ratable value of which is £1,352, and of the buildings, £546. The gross rental is £2,053. Christenbury Craggs, which cover about three acres of ground, are situated on the summit of a hill within a quarter of a mile of the boundary line of Northumberland. They consist of a huge mass of rocks broken into a great variety of fanciful shapes, presenting in the distance the appearance of a ruined fortress. "The front of the rock is between 50 and 60 feet high, and finely broken by innumerable fissures, which run from top to bottom, and separate the half isolated masses, which, in some places, assume the appearance of columns, and display an air of rude uniformity more pleasing to contemplate than the most admired production of art." Among the recesses of these rocks, in a former age, the freebooters and mosstroopers often found an asylum from the operation of the law. A short distance from the craggs, but on the same hill, is a rather copious spring, to which the name "Parting Well" has been given. It is situated on the summit of the hill, and the water which issues from it flows in two opposite directions.
Cross Hill, in this township, was so named from the emblem of redemption which formerly stood here. At Shield Knowe and Kilnpot Knowe are two cairns or sepulchral mounds, which probably cover the ashes of some British chief.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman