Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Snapshot Series: The Conishead Runes

In 1928 a block or red sandstone was discovered at Conishead Priory during an excavation of the medieval priory. This stone was the capital of a pilaster (an architectural element used to give the appearance of a supporting column) which would have once been part of the priory church. There was something different about this stone though, interestingly it had a runic inscription carved into it. Not something you would usually expect from a Medieval monastic site. The runes themselves had been translated as 'Dotbert' or 'Rotbert' (as in Robert) but some have suggested that it may translate as 'Kotbert' meaning Cuthbert, which could be very interesting.

Sadly this fascinating block went missing sometime after its discovery and its whereabouts became unknown. That is until a chance visit to an English Heritage store in 2016 led to its re-discovery!

I, the author of Furness Hidden Heritage, had visited the English Heritage stores in Helmsley to view the artefacts in storage there from Furness Abbey. While being shown around I was intrigued by one particular piece of stone which had a runic inscription upon it. The curators at the store were unsure as to what the inscription said and were under the belief that it was a stone from Furness Abbey. It certainly is in the same red sandstone synonymous with the abbey so it easily fit with all the other artefacts in storage.

Image courtesy of Greenlane Archeology.
I was curious about the stone so took a picture of the inscription for my own records. On leaving the stores I didn't put much more thought into the stone until one day when I was reading up on the priory at Conishead. I had found a report by Greenlane Archaeology, of Ulverston, and in the document there was mention of a unique stone found at Conishead with a runic inscription, a stone that's whereabouts was now unknown. Below the text was a black and white picture of the very same block I had seen in the stores.

My heart jumped and I immediately thought "I know where that is!". Quickly I checked the photograph I had taken of the stone in the stores to confirm my initial thoughts and yes, the runes matched, they were the same stone!

I soon got in contacted with Danny of Greenlane Archaeology to let him know of my discovery. He immediately got in contact with the curators at English Heritage and soon had confirmation that the Conishead Runes indeed sat on a shelf in the Helmsley stores. This marked the re-discovery of this fantastic piece of local history.



The Snapshot Series will be a series of short posts on singular locations, features or artefacts found in the Furness area. Not large enough to warrant a long blog post we will explore these sites in snapshots!



Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A beautiful building gutted by fire, the House of Lords pub, Barrow

Sat on Abbey Road, which stretches through the centre of Barrow-in-Furness, stands a beautiful Victorian building. Built in 1870-71 the building served as a working mens club and later went on to become a public house called Lords Tavern or the House of Lords.

Image Courtesy of Google Maps (https://www.google.co.uk/maps/)


The building was designed by architect HA Darbishire. Derbishire served as the architect to the Peabody Trust from 1864 to 1885. The Peabody trust was set up by an American man, George Peabody, who had gained an affection for London. The trusts aim was to, in London, "ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis, and to promote their comfort and happiness".

This charitable goal must have been something Darbishire was passionate about as much of his work, even outside of the trust and the capital, aimed to promote the welfare of others. The designing of a social club for working men, such as that in Barrow, is a natural fit for this philanthropic architect.

The building is exquisite with its large windows, ornate architectural features and cute oval dormer windows projecting out of the steep roof. The whole place looks grand, impressive and slightly gothic. It surely is a fine building on the streets of Barrow.

Sadly, just a few weeks ago, this building was nearly lost to a large, destructive and harrowing fire. The fire ripped through the property destroying the roof, causing walls to collapse and nearly  condemning this edifice, which has stood 146 years.

Luckily this may not be the end for this fine building, it may have life after the fire but only time will tell. 

It is always a saddening affair when something like this happens. Fire is so destructive and in an instant it can nearly destroy a part of our local history. But it does shine a spotlight on the need to look after these wonderful buildings. Not to let them fall in to disrepair or be left empty and abandoned. These buildings were built to be used, built to serve a purpose and it is a crying shame for them to be left to rot and for inevitably something like this to happen.

We are all guilty of ignoring these buildings, we see them every day, they become part of the background, something nice but something we don't take time to think about. But maybe we should all spend a bit more time looking at these old structures, seeing them for their beauty, their design and for what they are - places to be used, to be admired and loved, places to create safe havens for all.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Snapshot Series: The Pinfold, Dalton

In the shadow of St. Mary’s Church, sitting on Goose Green in Dalton-in-Furness, is a peculiar little feature known as the pinfold.



The pinfold is a circular enclosure built out of local limestone. It was built sometime in the late 18th – early 19th Century. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact date of construction but it does feature on the Merryweather’s town plan of Dalton in 1825. It is thought though that the structure may well have been present in the 1700s.

In its day this cute little feature would have been filled with any animals found roaming the streets of Dalton. Any stray sheep or cattle would be locked within until the owners came to retrieve them. You can really imagine how it must have been, the grassy patch of land between the walls brought to life with animals roaming, chomping on the grass.






The Snapshot Series will be a series of short posts on singular locations, features or artefacts found in the Furness area. Not large enough to warrant a long blog post we will explore these sites in snapshots!


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Birkrigg Stone Circle from the Air | VIDEO

Birkrigg stone circle is one of the best known and preserved prehistoric sites of the Furness Peninsula. We took a look at this and the whole of Birkrigg Common in our past blog post Birkrigg Common, Prehistoric Landscape to Quaker Burial Ground but in this post we did something a bit different. We took to the air to view the stone circle in all its glory!

This wonderful video gives you a birds eye view of the ancient site and certainly gives you a different and unique perspective:



Video footage Copyright © Furness Hidden Heritage 2017, all rights reserved.

Luckily the sun was shining on the day this was filmed which helps to bring out all the humps and bumps around the circle. You can clearly see the slight mound just outside the inner circle and you can get a better idea of where the outer circle is and how it is shaped.

You will also notice a large sunken path/ditch beside the circle. It is unclear exactly what this is but it could be as old, if not older, than the circle itself and may have formed a processional way to the site.

Birkrigg Stone Circle is a true gem of the Furness Peninsula and is one of our favourite sites to visit. We hope you enjoyed his special aerial video and it has encouraged you to visit this wonderful site.


Keep an eye out in the future for more videos like this along with more written blog posts.