Castle Carrock Parish

  > Is bounded on the south by Leath Ward, on the west by Cumrew and Carlatton, on the north by Brampton and Hayton, and on the east by Northumberland; - containing 3640 acres of land, rated at 1245 9s. 6d., and 351 inhabitants, resident in eighty houses. It lies on both sides of the river Gelt, and comprehends the northern point of that lofty range of mountains which extends from Cross Fell near Alston. The arable land is light, and full of blue stones; the high fell is rugged and sterile, but the lower moor, being dry and covered with a fine herbage, affords good pasturage; both limestone and freestone are found here in abundance. The commons have been enclosed, pursuant to an Act of Parliament obtained in 41st of George III. The fell commands extensive prospects of the most fertile portion of Cumberland, the Scottish hills, the Irish sea, the huge Skiddaw and Saddleback, and the Northumberland mountains, &c. The parish is divided into two constablewicks, called Town and Outerside Quarter, and is mostly the property of the earl of Carlisle and the resident yeomen, but a few others have small estates here.

Castle Carrock is a small straggling village, situated on the west side of Geltsdale, four miles S. of Brampton, and its name is supposed to be derived from Castle Crag. Near the village are the apparent remains of two ancient fortifications; one, in a wet field, about forty yards east of the church, surrounded by a moat, now filled up, is 100 yards long and 40 broad, and the other, which is about a furlong towards the south, is about three times as large as this, and rises seven or eight yards above the surrounding meadow, but both have been in tillage for a length of time. A small stream runs close by the west side of each, and might easily be made to fill the former quite round - near to which is a mineral spring, of the same quality as the Gilsland sulphuretted spa.

This parish was anciently possessed by Eustace de Vallibus, who received it from Robert, first lord of Gilsland, in the reign of Henry II, together with Hayton. It afterwards descended to his sons, when it passed by heiresses to other families, and subsequently to the Dacres. Tarn Lodge in a handsome villa, built 40 years ago, by John Bell, Esq., and now the residence of John Nixon, Esq. The Church is a small freestone edifice, with a square tower, rebuilt in 1828, at a cost of 250, raised by a parish rate, save 60 given by the church building commissioners, and a sum expended by the rector, who built the chancel. The old church, which had long been in a dilapidated state, was supposed to have been built out of the ruins of an old castle, that stood upon one of the entrenchments just mentioned; and what makes the tradition probable, is, there were several broken pieces of carved stones in the walls of the old church. The benefice is a rectory, in the patronage of the dean and chapter of Carlisle, and incumbency of the Rev. Thomas Chas. Vaughan. It is valued in the king's books at 5 12s. 10d., but was certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the average value of 159 per annum. Inscription on the bell taken out of the old tower, "Praise thou the lord, O castle Carrock !" At the enclosure of the commons, an allotment of land, which now lets for 12 a year, was set apart for the endowment of a school. On the summit of the fell are two cairns, one of great magnitude, called Hespeck raise. About the year 1775, a farmer, removing a large cairn of stones, near Gelt bridge, found a human skeleton in a sort of stone coffin, and it was generally supposed, from the sudden and visible alteration in his circumstances, that he also found there something of considerable value.

Geltsdale Forest is an extensive tract of mountain, forming the south-east portion of the parish, and is a royal forest, leased by the earl of Carlisle. Part of it abounds in birch and alderwoods, and gives rise to the river Gelt, which flows northward. Previous to the dissolution, both this and the adjoining forest of Brierthwaite belonged to the priory of Hexham, but after the suppression of that house, were granted to the barons of Gilsland.


Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847




Photo Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman