history of appleby...
The double-ringed Oddendale Stone Circle and other prehistoric cairns can be found on the limestone plateau to the south-west of Crosby Ravensworth, as well as evidence of Iron Age settlements. At Ewe Close there are traces of a Romano-British settlement - one of the finest in northwest England - comprising a series of hut circles and enclosure walls. The Romans came marching through this fertile valley, on route from Luguvalium (Carlisle) to Verterae (Brough) and thence over the Pennines to York. Forts, milecastles and sentry stations were placed at regular intervals along the road. Bravoniacum (Kirkby Thore) was sited at a strategic junction with the Maiden Way that branched northwards to Whitley Castle (near Alston), Hadrian's Wall at Gilsland and the fort at Bewcastle.
During the 9th century, Viking settlers arrived in the Eden Valley and probably established the first homestead near Bongate in Appleby (Norse for ‘place with apple trees') and at many other places along the Eden and its tributaries.
The Normans recognised the advantages of overlooking an important river crossing at Appleby and built the defensive stone keep of Appleby Castle on a high vantage point. The Clifford family took over the castle in the 13th century and held it for the next 400 years, during which time it was rebuilt and extended, and the stone keep given a new name: Caesar's Tower. Extensive renovations were made in the 17th century by Lady Anne Clifford, who also founded St Anne's Hospital in 1651. After her death, the castle passed to the Earl of Thanet who re-faced the building (using stone from the demolition of castles at Brougham and Brough). The castle is still open for tours, weddings, functions and conferences.