Saturday, March 18, 2006

Low Borrowbridge nr Tebay

Low Borrowbridge
Nr Tebay

The Roman fort at Low Borrowbridge lays in a field next to the main West coast railway and just off the A685 from Kendal to Tebay. The fort is undated, and is fairly well hidden.

Above. View of the fort from Birk Knott (courtesy of Janis Mildwater)

The interior covers an area of around two and three quarter acres, and consists of a turf covered platform, with embanked ditches to all four sides. The earthen embankment has a dry stone wall built all along it…nothing to do with the Roman fort. Between the back end of the fort and the railway line, there are the faint outlines of two square structures with stone foundations, more than likely the footings of a pair of guard towers. These feint remains lay on the North face of the fort, guarding what would have been the North gateway, and protrude about five feet outside the walls. The footings of the guard tower are possibly visible beneath the telegraph poles in the photo below.

The West side of the fort seems to have an array of around 4 ditches which in turn travel along the South side of the remains. About 60 yards North of the South West corner of the fort, the remains of the West gate can still be seen. The remains indicate that this gateway would have been a single track entrance of around six feet wide.

Above. A view of the Western ramparts, with the modern field wall on top.

Some of the outer face of the ramparts were cleared in 1883 and then again in 1933. These remains consists of an offset course of large limestone blocks topped by a course of sandstone, above which the wall seems to have been loosely rebuilt. The rebuilding appears to have blocked the remains of the North gate.

Above. Looking West towards the fort's ramparts, with Birk Knott in the background.

There are no indications of any internal buildings....years of ploughing has probably destroyed any evidence. A fire place was however discovered during excavations in the centre of the fort in 1826.

Above. A view of the fort's Northern ramparts and defensive banks.

In 1883, a fragment of walling and a pavement of bright red concrete (pounded brick) with a raised border round it, was found in the gardens of the nearby farm house, then an inn. These remains, partly destroyed in 1933, probably represent the fort’s bath building.

To the North of the fort, a flat piece of ground was found that was suggested to have been the parade ground. However, due to its small size, this idea has since been ruled out.

To the North of the fort, the stone abutments of a Roman bridge crossing the river can allegedly be seen in the river embankment.

There is some great information about the fort here, at the Lunesdale Archaeological Society website, especially relating to work that took place between 2014 to 2017.

Aldingham motte\Aldingham Grange

Aldingham Motte
and Aldingham Grange

Aldingham castle is an unusual 13th century motte and bailey castle. The site is believed to have been first fortified in the 12th century as a ringwork and bailey structure. The ringwork was then filled in and the earthworks heightened in order that a motte could be raised and a wide ditch created.

Above. A view of the motte looking South from the beach.

The remains now sit precariously on the cliffs over looking the sea, with erosion being a problem on the east side of the motte.

Above. A view of the motte looking East out towards Morecambe Bay.

The motte is around 30 feet high, with a ditch surrounding it to a depth of around 10 feet. The ditch varies in width from 15 to 20 feet across. The above two photos show the view of the castle from the beach. This area can be accessed from the footpath that runs from the graveyard of St Cuthberts church about two miles down the coast walk.The remains site to the east of the A5087, South of Bardsea and about 6 miles south of Ulverston, on the Cumbria coastal walk. Although the remains are on private land, and fenced off, the motte can be seen clearly from the adjacent field. Just watch the cows…..they’re a little edgy when people stray from the path!!

Above. Another view of the motte looking East.

About 150 yards to the West of the motte and bailey remains, and across some unidentified earthwork ditches (possibly the remains of the bailey defences), lays the remains of Aldingham Grange, the supposed remains of a 12th century manor house. All that remains of this site however, is the water filled moat and the earthen mound in the centre.

Above. The moated platform of Aldingham Grange, looking North.

It is thought that this was the site of the manor held by Michael de Fleming. There are not traces of stone work on the mound in the centre of the moat, possibly indicating that a timber structure was erected here.

Above. A view of the moat surrounding the central earthwork.

This is alleged to have been the site of the manor belonging to the Le Flemings.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mediobogdum and Galava

Cumbrian Roman Forts

There are a number of well preserved roman forts in Cumbria, ranging from Mediobogdum at the summit of Hardknott pass, Galava at Ambleside and Low Borrowbridge near Tebay.The Romans were here from AD 43 until they left in the 5th century. During their occupation they left behind the remains of fortresses, towns, defensive structures and helped shape the landscape of Britain from the North to the South, and from the West to the East. The Romans left their mark on Cumbria as well!!

Mediobogdum\Hard Knott Pass

The fort at the summit of Hardknott pass lays 100 yards off the road that runs over the pass down to Eskdale.

Above. The fort as seen from the summit of Hardknott Pass.

It represents one of the more isolated Roman outposts in the UK. The fort was built between AD120 and AD 138, and there are two phases of building in evidence.

The first phase appears to be mainly of wooden structures, and the second phase appears to be mainly of stone structures replacing the earlier buildings. The fort is 375 feet square, and covers and area of around 2 and three quarter acres.

The walls around the fort were around 5 feet thick providing excellent protection against attack. The ditch that surrounded the fort, and the wall, amounted to a defensive barrier of around 20 feet.

The fort over looks the Roman road that runs over the pass, connecting Ravenglass and Ambleside, to Brougham at Penrith. Much of the structure has been rebuilt from the available rubble at the site, so that the walls that surround the fort on all four sides, stand to around three feet high.

The barracks, the bath house and the granaries have all been similarly reconstructed and are therefore very well defined.

About 100 yards to the north west of the fort, lays an artificially flattened escarpment which is widely believed to be the camp’s parade ground.


The fort at Ambleside is somewhat smaller than the Hardknott fort, and covers an area of around 1 and three quarter acres. The fort measures 300 by 250 feet.
The fort is built at the north end of Windermere and was constructed at the end of the first century as the Romans were making headway in the North.

The original site was mainly constructed of wood, but was strengthened in the second century with stone structures, and the whole site was lifted on a building platform that would originally have been around four feet high. The fort would have housed around 500 soldiers.

There are not so many remains as at Hardknott, but what there is has been restructured again using available rubble. The granaries, some of the outer defences, the main gate, the South gate and the barracks can all be seen clearly.

Both of these forts are freely accessible, and worth a visit.

Hellifield Pele tower

Hellifield Pele tower
North Yorkshire

Hellifield pele tower is a tower house built in the early 14century. It was much altered during the 15th, 17th, 18th and 19 centuries, with floors and further buildings being added throughout these periods. The original site also had an aisled hall and a tower solar block, but these were both built in the 17th century.

A ha-ha (wall faced ditch preventing livestock entering the grounds but affording unbroken views across the park) was built during the late 18th century and a large service wing was also added.

Licence to crenellate the tower was granted to Laurence Hammerton in 1440. The tower was at one point surrounded by a wet moat, but no trace of this survives today.

During the second world war, Hellifield Pele was used to house German prisoners of war.The site was a roofless ruin, until it bought by a developer, and has been rebuilt for domestic use. The tower lays just off the B6253 south of Hellifield Green. Although the footpath runs very close to it, it is on private property. It was featured in Grand Designs on tv, showing the trials and tribulations that the family went through in owning and rebuilding their dream home. Check out the web site for news and items relating to the pele tower and its new lease of life, as a B&B.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Yewbarrow\Ubarrow Hall, Longsleddale

Yewbarrow\Ubarrow Hall
Nr Kendal
South Lakeland

Yewbarrow\Ubarrow Hall sits in the Longsleddale valley above the river Sprint. In some historical documentation, the hall is known as Ubery Hall, thus making research difficult at times.

Above. Photo from an old newspaper cutting, showing the cottage built into the tower's North West wall.

Above. A zoomed in view of the tower.

It is a Tower house built in 1450 and is the oldest building in the valley of Longsleddale.

Above. The tower from the South West.

The hall was probably granted to Robert de Leybourne, and later passed through marriage to a younger brother of Harrington of Wreysham (Wraysholme) of Lancashire. The name of the 'younger brother' isn't known. The hall remained in the Harrington's family for several generations. During the reign of Henry III, a rent of 1 shilling was paid to Queen Katherine for the hall. The tower, visible from the roadside, is around 32 feet by 22 feet, and sits at the West end of the current farm. Formerly of three storeys, the tower is now only two storeys tall. There is a vaulted basement, which was used as a dairy, accessed by a narrow passage broken through the 6 feet thick walls. This basement was originally a square roofed room, and from personal examination, it is plain to see that that vaulted ceiling is a later addition, as it butts up against the external wall. The tower is now attached to a 17th century farm house. The entrance is via a very narrow door between the main house, and brings you out onto the ground floor of the tower. Immediately in front of you, a spiral staircase takes you to the first floor. The stair case is original, and was found by the current owner when renovating the tower in the early 1990's, buried beneath a pile of roof rubble. It consists of stone steps overlaid with slate. The tower was in a severe state of disrepair in the early 1990's, when the current owner took on the task of renovating it. A photo showed to me by the owner, presented the tower roofless and partially ruined. The owner has not only used most of the original masonry, but has also incorporated some original timbers into the roof, as well as restoring the door that many Internet sources state was the original entrance into the tower, to a window.

Hollin Hall\How pele tower

Hollin Hall\HowCrook
Nr Kendal

Hollin Hall\How lays just off the B5284 from Kendal to Windermere.

The building is a double towered house, consisting of a 14th century pele at one end, and a 16th century\early 17th century central block, and an 18th century tower at the other end. Looking at the photo above, the right hand wing is the 14th century tower.

The above photo shows the pele tower from behind, with the hall and other wing on the right, added at a later date with the familiar Westmorland chimneys.

Above. The same view, but an older image.

The central portion of this building was once held by the Phillipson family, and then later by the Flemings. The tower measures roughly 7 and a half metres by 5 and a half metres....a tiny tower by all accounts. It would have been very lightly fortified, as the walls are only around a metre thick.

The tower can be viewed from the roadside, although the views are limited by trees and walls.