introduction to bewcastle...
Proximity to the Scottish border ensured that for most of the Middle Ages survival in this area was intrinsically linked to cross-border warfare, family feuds and general antagonism towards any form of authority.
Amid this wild, untamed history and landscape is one outstanding cultural gem - the intricately carved Bewcastle Cross in St Cuthbert's churchyard, which has somehow survived the turmoil raging around it for centuries.
From the heights of Christianbury Crags, over the green expanses of Kershope Forest to the secluded valleys and farmlands of the Border lands, this rugged country contains no defined settlements - merely isolated farmsteads and the tiny hamlets of Kirkcambeck, Stapleton, Roweltown and Roadhead - the settled silence of the land broken only by the calls of buzzards and curlews and the occasional overhead roar of jet fighters on training missions at RAF Spadeadam.
The Tale of Kinmont Willie
Kinmont Willie Armstrong was a notorious reiver who regularly plundered lands on either side of the border with his army of men. On 17 March 1596, he was travelling home along Kershopeburn on a truce day (a day when reivers could get together without fear of arrest) when he was ambushed by men loyal to the English warden, Lord Scrope, and taken to Carlisle Castle. Not only was the capture made on a truce day, but it also happened on Scottish land, an act which incensed Buccleuch, the Warden of the Scottish March. A month later, a mob of Armstrongs, Grahams, Elliots and Scotts gathered to rescue Willie. After wading across the River Eden on a dark and stormy night, they arrived at the castle and smashed open a postern door. Fortunately for them, the castle guards were sheltering from the poor weather and not aware of what was happening until it was too late. Kinmont Willie escaped and was never apprehended again. He died of old age in his bed and was buried at Canonbie.
ARMSTRONG - Langholm/Liddesdale/Bewcastle
BEATTIE - Liddesdale/Eskdale
BELL - Annan/Gilsland
DACRE - Naworth/Lanercost/Brampton
ELLIOT - Liddesdale
FORSTER - Kershopefoot
GRAHAM - Longtown/Netherby/Kirkandrews
HETHERINGTON - Irthington/Brampton/Hethersgill
NIXON - Bewcastle
NOBLE - Bewcastle
RIDLEY - Brampton/Tynedale
ROUTLEDGE - Bewcastle
STOREY - Longtown/Westlinton/Bewcastle
TAYLOR - Bewcastle/Hethersgill