The 15 inch gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale
Railway was originally built to transport stone from Eskdale to
In the 19th Century one of the region's
biggest industries was the manufacture of Gunpowder.
The Lancashire cotton industry used millions
of bobbins that came from the shores of Lake Windermere
All fascinating facts about the Lake District's
hidden past. Nowadays tourism and agriculture are the main industries
in the Lake District, but for thousands of years people have lived
and worked in the region and left their mark.
Picture copyright, Martin Rushton
are nearly 50 stone circles in the Cumbria, although most are
outside the boundary of the National Park. The most visited is
Castlerigg stone circle, on the fells above the modern day town
of Keswick. It dates to early Neolithic period and consists of
38 stones set in a circle, with an inner rectangle of another
10 stones. The land upon which it stands is owned by the National
Trust and visiting is relatively easy.
Just outside the National Park, at Little
Selkeld in the Eden Valley, is Long Meg and her daughters. At
just under 350 feet across this is the second biggest stone circle
in England. Local folklore claims that Long Meg was a witch who
was turned to stone, along with her daughters, for dancing on
the moors on a Sunday instead of attending worship.
On the southern edge of the National Park
is Swinside Stone Circle, which is situated on the eastern flank
of Black Combe. There are 55 stones of varying sizes set into
a circle of just under 90 feet diameter. It is not well visited
because access is not very easy. The circle stands on private
land used as sheep pasture, although a nearby footpath offers
good views, as does the descent of the east side of Black Combe.
The Romans left their mark in several parts
of the Lake District. The remains of their bath house at Ravenglass
are amongst the best preserved in the north of England. Hardknott
Fort, at the top of Hardknott Pass, is a monument to their hardiness
(unless the weather in these parts was considerably different
in those days!) and there are also Roman remains at Ambleside,
whilst a short distance to the north of the Lake District is one
of Britain's best known Roman site, Hadrian's Wall. If you are
interested in the Lake District's Roman History then the
Senhouse Roman Museum at Maryport is well worth a visit.
When Norse settlers took over the region
in the 10th century they cleared forests and built wooden farmsteads.
Very few of their buildings remain, but the Norse influence can
be seen everywhere in the region's place names. Words such as
Thwaite, Mere, Ghyll, Tarn, Rigg and Fell are all Norse in origin.
You can find out more about Lake
District place names and their origins here.
tourism started to develop in the 19th century, many other industries
were also commonplace during the reign of Queen Victoria. Although
the landscape appears to be free of the trappings of industrialisation
many of the raw materials that powered the industrial revolution
came from the region. Ion Ore was particularly plentiful and the
mines of south and west Cumbria were prolific.
Stone and slate quarrying and lead, silver
and copper mining were commonplace further inland. The Greenside
mine at Glenridding worked until the late 1950's and was even
used for seismic tests during the cold war. Extensive
remains of the mines can be seen on the path from Glenridding
to Helvellyn. Coppermines Valley at Coniston was also a hive of
activity, with abandoned mine workings and mine workers cottages
still dotted along the hillside.
In the woods of the Lake District were a
variety of industries, including charcoal burning and bobbin turning.
At the southern end of Windermere is Stott Park bobbin mill, now
a working museum but once the provider of millions of bobbins
to the thriving Lancashire cotton industry.
Share this article on Twitter