« AnteriorContinuar »
of Bowfell, 3000 feet above the level of the sea.—(4) From this point our concluding line conducts us over rugged mountains, and then by richer and gentler scenery, to the neighbourhood of Penrith ; Ulleswater being on this frontier the distinguishing feature, as Windermere was on the former. In the grand hollow which a magnificent sweep of mountains makes between Ambleside and Keswick, is that well-known heap of stones, which must be carefully noted by us, if for no other reason, at least because it is the county boundary, whatever may be the value of the tradition which makes it the memorial of the death of Dunmail, “last king of rocky Cumberland.' The top of Helvellyn, with its wide and noble views, is again the boundary between Westmorland and Cumberland; but the grandest and (if we may use the phrase) the most classical part of the mountain belongs to our own county. The defile of Glen Coin conducts us through a scene of wild country to the banks of Ulleswater on its western side, at a considerable distance below Patterdale. Thus there can be no doubt whatever that this noble lake belongs more largely to Westmorland than to Cumberland. The circuit of our first pentagon ends at Eamont Bridge, where we see • Welcome into Cumberland' and a Highlander painted on a sign across the water. Nor is this place without at least one historical mark worthy of a momentary pause, in that puzzle to antiquarians, the circular grassy area surrounded with a trench, called Arthur's Round Table.
Here then we enter upon the circuit of our second pentagon, taking the bridge over the Eamont as our point of departure.(1) This stream continues to be the boundary, and presently receives the Lowther. The extreme beauty of these two rivers for some space before their meeting is not known to those visitors who are content to see the Lakes without exploring any other part of the county. About the point of their junction we come in contact for the first time with the grander features of history, A distinction must be made here between Brougham Hall and Brougham Castle. The former will be visited with much interest, both for the charm of its position, and for the sake of the distinguished man (once the rival of the Lowthers in county contests), whose Chancellor's Purses are conspicuous in the Drawing Room. The latter is the ancient seat of the Cliffords, and is one of the grandest ruins of feudalism in the North of England, and by far the grandest in Westmorland. It must be referred to afterwards more particularly, in its connection with history. But we pause for a moment to gaze at the memorial of a pathetic passage in the later days of the house of Clifford. This is the Countess's Pillar,' which stands on a
slightly slightly rising ground by the side of the Penrith and Appleby Road. This pillar was erected A.D. 1656, by the right honourable Anne, Countess Dowager of Pembroke, and sole heir of the right honourable George, Earl of Cumberland ; for a memorial of her last parting in this place with her good and pious mother, the right honourable Margaret, Countess Dowager of Cumberland, the 2nd of April, 1616. In memory whereof she also left an annuity of 41. to be distributed to the poor within this parish of Brougham, every 2nd day of April for ever, upon the stone here by. Laus Deo.' After crossing the Roman Way, we find ourselves in a wild and very elevated country, by the upper waters of the Tees, the county on the other side, for a short space, not being either Yorkshire or Cumberland, but Durham.
-(2) The natural extremity of our first line is Caldron Snout, a place dear both to Artists and to Botanists, and whence our second line runs over Mickle Fell and other bleak and dreary moors to Rere Cross or Roi Cross on Stainmoor, which the Handbook’ very properly notes as a great historical land-mark. It was in fact on this side of the county what Dunmail Raise was on the other, the boundary between the Old Scottish kingdom and the domains of William the Conqueror. And in every respect this pass over Stainmoor deserves our notice. Not only did a Roman Road pass this way to York, but this has been the highway for centuries of abundant droves of cattle, whether under the superintendence of the robbers of the Border, or in the care of the honest dealers at Brough Hill Fair. In the time of travelling by coaches and carriages, very dreary were the journeys in winter by this road,—the most unpleasant that can be conceived,'—as was said soon after the establishment of public conveyances : Dean Milner, for instance, had about this time in the snow a very narrow escape, to which he used frequently to allude.—(3) In going over the fells from Stainmoor, we look down upon the now scanty ruins of Pendragon Castle, one of the numerous strongholds of the Cliffords. The ridge on which we stand is the watershed between Swaledale and the upper reach of Eden, where Pendragon is placed, a fact recorded and treasured up very safely in the old couplet
'Let Uter Pendragon do what he can,
Eden will run where Eden ran.' In what particular relationship this Prince Uter stood to King Arthur, and what particular attempt he made to persuade the Eden to leave his old channel for the benefit of the castle, we need not inquire. The moral is clearly identical with what Horace says, that if you drive out Nature by force, she will still
return to her old ways.—(4) From the ridge of Whinfell a rugged walk due westward takes us finally over the summit of the Howgill Fells to our old point at Tebay.
And now that the outline has been traced, we must slightly fill in the surface of these two divisions of the county, so as to secure a sufficient basis for the history which is to follow. And it happens very conveniently that the history falls on the whole into two sections, corresponding very nearly with the geographical arrangement which has been adopted. The broad features which distinguish the two parts are these, -in the northeast, the wide plain of the Eden, half surrounded by a deep belt of high moorland with rounded summits,-in the south-west a close aggregate of noble mountains, with lakes, and with the rivers Kent and Lune flowing towards the open country to the South. As regards elevation, we have seen what are the highest points of the latter portion. In the former, the furthest ridges in the neighbourhood of Stainmoor are about a thousand feet lower. A very large proportion of the streams from both divisions of the county find their way northwards to the Eden. This physical fact is well expressed in the local couplet :
There's Loother, and Yammont, and lile Vennet Beck;
Eden comes, and clicks 'em a' by the neck.' Turning now from the merely external to what may be called the human contrasts of these two portions of Westmorland, we have, of course, to notice in the first place that the south-western district is part of the celebrated Lake Country. But, if the claim of superior beauty must be conceded to this half of the shire, an interest of a different kind belongs to the other half. The Muse of History has far more to say of the north-eastern and less attractive region. However much poetry is now connected in popular feeling with the region so well delineated in Mr. Linton's volume,* it is remarkable how destitute that region is of any connection with the earlier annals of the country, how bare it is of traditions and ballads. This has been well pointed out by Southey,t who contrasts the Lake Country in this respect with the Scottish frontier, 'where,' he says, Sir Walter can entertain his guests during a morning ride with tales of murders, executions, house - besieging and house - burning, as parts of family history belonging to every homestead of which he comes in sight.' The region of the Lakes had doubtless little in old times to tempt marauders from Scotland. But it is not merely in its closer neighbourhood to the Border, and consequently greater frequency of feuds and forays, that the north-eastern section of the county stands out in strong contrast with the other. It is almost entirely through this side that Westmorland has its connection with the general history of England. The division we have roughly indicated corresponds nearly with that of the two great feudal baronies of early days. Or again, to turn to the ecclesiastical side of the subject, it coincides approximately with the separation of the two archdeaconries of modern times. It is said, too, that there are corresponding differences of farming, of dialect, of local customs. And sometimes the opposition of feeling between the ‘Bottom’and the Barony has appeared in very amusing fornis.
* This book has been selected out of many, as giving an excellent representation of the Lake Country, both by pen and pencil. The engravings have a somewhat cold and gray aspect, but this is the true aspect of the lakes during a great part of the year. † Colloquies,' ii. p. 150,
But now, having gained our leading geographical and historical starting points, we must follow the thread of the county annals, gathering in a few more topographical notices in detail as we proceed, and beginning, of course, with whatever we can detect of Celtic and Roman, of Saxon, Danish, or Norwegian. Some of these lower stratifications of history are here obscure enough. The Celtic period has no doubt left its trace on Westmorland, both in nomenclature and in monuments. Thus in the first syllables of Nan-Bield, the name of the wild pass by which we cross from Kentmere to Mardale, and of Glen-Ridding, the long deep valley descending from Helvellyn to Patterdale, we have terms with which we are familiar in Scotland and Wales. The Lune again,—the white river,'—has its equivalents not only in other British counties, but in Brittany: the Eden is connected by etymologists with the Don and the Danube ; while the Gaelic and Erse name for water, which appropriately survives in the word "whiskey,' keeps its place even yet in the sanctuary of Ease-Dale. But turning now from names to monuments, those mysterious stones, which we call Druidical, are to be found in two or three parts of the county. _Especially we must notice the circle of Maybrough on the Eamont, not far from King Arthur's Round Table, with which it may possibly have some historical connection, This silent grassy lawn, with its stony embankment all round, and ash-trees among the stones,-and with its one lofty stone and one solitary ash-tree in the centre, is deeply impressive.
We hasten to the Roman time: and here, within moderate limits, very clear and definite historical marks are to be found. In the first place we have two very distinct lines of Road. One of these is the Tenth Iter of Richard of Cirencester, over the details of which British antiquarians have long puzzled themselves, and will probably continue to puzzle themselves to the end. It enters the county along the valley of the Lune, climbs the fells, and proceeds towards the Roman Wall. The transverse Road was part of the great line of communication between York and Carlisle ; and we can trace it at intervals in crossing Stainmoor, and thence by Brough, Appleby, and Brougham to Penrith. Among the other lines of communication, connecting Roman stations, the road over High Street is one of the subjects of greatest interest in the county. High Street itself is one of the most remarkable features of Westmorland, extending as it does for many miles, almost from Windermere to Ulleswater, in a northerly direction, at a high and uniform level. At first sight it might be thought strange that a Roman Way should be carried over such ground as this; but when we observe, as we ride along the ridge, that we command views down Troutbeck into Lancashire, down Kentmere into southern Westmorland, over the wide plain of Appleby eastwards, besides the valley of Hawes Water close below,and when we remember further that the roads of the Romans were lines of defence as well as lines of communication, and apt to connect themselves with the great natural features of the country, we cease to wonder that the ancient soldiers should have felt the importance of moving easily along this lofty mountain-causeway ; and very impressive it is to think of them, as we trace the broad grassy riband winding along the summit. We have little doubt that Vertere is Brough, and that Alone has some connection with the Lune: and we have a strong impression, too, that Bronovace is Brougham, and Aballaba Appleby, notwithstanding weighty opinions to the contrary. We have the marks of three famous légions,—the twentieth, which was stationed for some centuries at Chester,—the second, which had its head-quarters at Caerleon in South Wales,—and the sixth, which was much employed in building the Roman Wall. The altar that is still to be seen in the Kendal museum is doubtless authentic; but some others of the published inscriptions are apocryphal.
* An instance is to be found in the life of Lord Keeper Guilford ( Lives of the Norths,' i. 291-2).
But we must pass on to the period which succeeded the Roman times; and in so doing we move, in one sense, out of the light into darkness again, for the Saxons and Northmen have left no visible mark on the country, such as roads, altars, or inscriptions. But, on the other hand, there are certain facts in the local nomenclature, which enable us, with the help of Mr. Ferguson, to arrive at some very positive conclusions in regard