Penrith Area Field Trip 14th September 2002

The area around Penrith, in Cumbria is rich in archaeological sites ranging from stone age to medieval.

Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur's Round Table

These henges of late neolithic or early bronze age date are situated just south of Penrith at Eamont Bridge.  Click here to see map.  Mayburgh henge is 361 feet in diameter and is unusual for a henge in having no inner ditch.  The banks are also formed from piled river stones, rather than earth.  There is a single standing stone in the centre but there were probably four originally. A single entrance points roughly west.  There are some pictures of the henge at this site.  King Arthur's Round Table is a more typical henge with earthen banks and a wide, flat bottomed inner ditch.  It is 300 feet in diameter.  Originally, there were two entrances facing roughly north and south but the northern entrance, and some of the bank and ditch on the north side, has been obliterated by the B5320 road.  There is a picture of the henge on this site.

St. Andrew's Church, Penrith

The churchyard contains some examples of early medieval (dark age) stone sculpture.  There are three, quite badly eroded, crosses and several "hogsback" Anglo-Scandinavian tombstones.

Brougham Castle and Roman Fort

Brougham castle was built by Robert de Vieuxpont in the early 13th century at the northern end of the Roman fort of Brocavum.  Click here to see the location.  The castle passed into the Clifford family and was much expanded and strengthened during the Anglo-Scottish wars.  The castle fell into decay during the 16th century but was restored, along with several other Clifford castles, by Lady Anne Clifford in the 1650s.  After passing into the ownership of the earls of Thanet, the castle was once again neglected.  It came under state guardianship in 1928 and is now under the care of English Heritage.  There is lots more information and pictures on this site.

St. Andrew's Church, Dacre

Dacre is mentioned by the Venerable Bede in his Ecclesiastical History where he records that a lock of hair belonging to St. Cuthbert was kept in a monastery built near the river Dacore and taking its name from it.  Archaeological investigations have supported the idea of there being an early monastery on the site.  The current church dates from the 13th/14th century.  Restoration work carried out in 1870 appears to have been sympathetic to earlier designs and the chancel contains some fine romanesque arches.  There are two fragments of carved stone crosses inside the church but it is most famous for its stone "bears" in the churchyard.  There are four of these enigmatic scupltures, one guarding each corner of the church.  The location of the church can be found on this map.  You can see photographs of the bears, and the church, on this site.