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eric robson's appleby...

In 1850 a rather strange character could have been found making his way along the River Eden through Appleby. William Mounsey was known as the Jew of Carlisle. During military service in the Middle East he became fascinated by Jewish culture and when he returned home he dressed as a Jew and wore his hair in the Jewish style. He must certainly have stood out from the crowd in the Border City.

Anyhow, the reason for his arrival in Appleby was that in 1850 he was making an epic journey from his home on the Rockcliffe marshes by the mouth of the River Eden to the source of the river at Hell Gill up above Mallerstang. He marked his passage by making strange carvings on cliffs along the river. They can still be seen at places like Wetheral and Armathwaite. But his finest piece of work was something that became known as The Jew Stone - a six feet high slate pillar inscribed in Latin on one side and Greek on the other - which he erected near the source of the Eden.

Unfortunately a bunch of Navvies working on the Settle and Carlisle Railway came across the stone, thought it was a bit sinister (presumably because they were a touch rusty at the old Latin and Greek) and smashed it.

But there is a happy ending. In 1989, following the intervention of a Jewish visitor to Cumbria who heard the story, the money was collected to create a replica which was erected and still stands on the village green in the little village of Outhgill.

If you take the trouble to go and see it, make a point of also visiting the majestic 60 feet waterfall at Hell Gill Force towards the source of the Eden. It's a great spot and nearby is Hell Gill itself which the highwayman Dick Turpin is supposed to have jumped on Black Bess. Total baloney of course but the place is still worth a visit.

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