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 ' Burgh-by-Sands has witnessed the dramatic ebb and flow of the tides of history .’

Burgh-by-Sands, located on the northern edge of Cumbria, at the gateway to the Solway Coast, can truly be said to be a corner of ’Hidden Britain’. Uniquely situated within both a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site, the village is also on the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail, the Reivers’ Cycle Route and the Coast to Coast Walk. Last year Burgh-by-Sands was voted Calor ’Cumbria Village of the Year’ and ’Northern Village of the Year’ in recognition of its outstanding community spirit.

Burgh-by-Sands and the nearby Solway Coast are full of unspoilt, peaceful beauty and rich historical, cultural and architectural heritage just waiting to be explored ...

 

 

Touched by History
Burgh-by-Sands has indeed a rich historical heritage. The line of Hadrian’s Wall, which had forts and watchtowers along it, runs through the village, although all evidence above ground has now gone. About a thousand years after the Romans, the Normans reached Cumbria and their successors built the Church, later adding a defensive pele tower. Being close to the border with Scotland resulted in Burgh-by-Sands being for centuries at the heart of a turbulent area. In 1307 King Edward I journeyed north aiming to impose his authority on the Scots, but it was not to be, the King dying on Burgh Marsh where there is now a monument to mark his campaign and fall. Bonnie Prince Charlie, in 1745, led an army of Highlanders south into England after fording the River Eden near Burgh-by-Sands, spending the night at Stonehouse Farm in the parish before laying siege to Carlisle. 

Architectural Interest
For those interested in the development of English domestic building styles, Burgh-by-Sands has one of the largest concentrations of ‘clay dabbin’ houses in Cumbria. A lack of suitable materials on the Solway Plain meant that most local domestic buildings were of a clay construction, cruck-framed with enclosing walls of wattle and daub, pebbly clay, turf or cobbles. Although many have in recent years been clad with brick, there are several good examples of this architecturally important style of domestic building to be seen, notably White Row Cottages, Lamonby Farm and Edna’s Cottage - another, Leigh Cottage, is in the process of being renovated.

St Michael’s Church
It is rewarding to visit St Michael’s Church, which was built in the 12th century on the site of a Roman Fort, using stones from the fort and Hadrian’s Wall. This is an extremely fine example of a fortified church, one of the best still remaining in England, where the tower provided refuge for the villagers during the bloody Reiver border raids. The body of King Edward I, ‘Hammer of the Scots’, who died on Burgh Marsh in 1307, lay in state here before its final journey to London. A booklet is on sale, outlining the history of the Church.

Burgh Marsh
A Site of Special Scientific Interest, the marshes are home to a rich variety of wildlife and vegetation, with native and migratory birds providing a constantly changing panorama of sights and sounds. Cattle are grazed on the marsh in summer and sheep from the high Lakeland fells in winter. Solway turf from Burgh Marsh, which was prized for its quality, was once used in many prestigious locations, including Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon. Horse racing, notably the ‘Barony Cup’, which dated back to 1690, was once a feature of the marsh. The cup was raced for only when a new Earl of Lonsdale assumed the title, and was last competed for in 1804. A National Hunt meeting was inaugurated in 1882, with the last race being held in April 1900.

Haaf Net Fishing
This ancient method of fishing, sometimes called ‘living archaeology’, has been practised in the area from Viking times to the present day, and is unique to the Solway and parts of Scandinavia. Using nets mounted on wooden frames held in front of them, fishermen catch salmon and sea trout on the rapidly flowing tides.

Hound Trailing
This popular sport, regarded as the oldest in Cumbria, has a large following in the area. Meetings are held regularly during the season, with hounds following an aniseed trail over farmland and back to the starting point. Winners receive trophies and cash prizes.

The ‘Blind Bard’
Cumbrian dialect poet John Stagg (1770-1823), sometimes called ‘the English Robbie Burns’, was born in the village, living at Cross Cottage. Losing his sight in a childhood accident, he wrote lively verse about people, their dialect and customs.

The Greyhound Inn
The Greyhound offers a warm welcome to visitors and locals alike, with bar snacks being available daily plus meals at lunchtimes and evenings on Fridays and Saturdays. Over the last 200 years the village has been home to many hostelries, most notably the Lady Lowther, which was immortalised in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Red Gauntlet ’.

More Information

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