The Romans erected gravestones and tombs for their dead just as we do today. Often inscribed with the letters DM, Dis Manibus (To the Spirits of the Departed), not all Romans believed in an afterlife and there was a wide range of religious beliefs. The earliest graves found at Rome date to the 10th century BCE and include both urn cremations and inhumations. The bulk of the population was disposed of relatively informally across most of Europe in the 5th-3rd centuries, often by exposing the body on platforms. By the 1st century cremation was the norm and Roman nobles began building elaborate tombs around the same time. Modelled on those of the Greek east, such tombs featured monumental sculptures and elaborate stone architecture. The Roman tradition relating to the disposal of the dead led to a strict separation between the space of the deceased and that of the living. It was illegal to bury the dead within the boundaries of a settlement so cemeteries are always found outside towns and forts (Hornblower & Spawforth, 2004). It was widely believed that the souls of the dead lived on in their tombs or graves and so gifts were often brought to placate these spirits. At Corbridge there are tombstones which detail the names of individuals who lived at the Fort. The lion above was discovered when the mausoleum at Shoredon Brae was excavated and was originally placed on top of the outer wall of the monument. Lions were often associated with funerary monuments as they were seen to symbolise either the inescapable ravages of death or man’s triumph over death. As very few have been found in direct association with mausoleum buildings, the lion is an important find.
In the northwest corner of the nave in Cartmel Priory is the above Cavendish memorial. The impressive alabaster tomb chest bears a marble effigy of Lord Frederick Cavendish, son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire, who was Chief Secretary to Ireland in Gladstone’s government. Lord Cavendish was assassinated in Phoenix Park in Dublin in 1882 along with Thomas H Burke, permanent undersecretary for Ireland. Born in 1836, Lord Cavendish was a British politician who entered parliament in 1865. He became financial secretary to the Treasury from 1880 and in 1882, he became Chief Secretary for Ireland. As part of a goodwill emissary from England at the height of the Irish Crisis, Lord Cavendish was murdered by a Fenian splinter group, known as the Invincibles, the day after his arrival in Dublin.
The fine tomb chest is the work of the 19th century English sculptor and poet Thomas Woolner. Each of the base panels are flanked by richly ornamented engaged pilasters. The chest features the Cavendish crest (below) and the inscription reads “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who shall rise up in his holy place? Even he that hath clean hands and a pure heart.”
Situated close to the Quaker Friends Meeting House at Brigflatts is the Quaker Burial Ground. Early Friends needed somewhere to bury their dead because the Anglican churchyards were closed to them. The first Friend to be buried here was Rebecca Langle in 1656 in what was then Richard Robinson’s Apple Orchard. Four more Friends were subsequently buried and in 1660, the land was purchased from Richard Robinson for the sum of 10s. This burial ground is likely to be the first piece of land purchased by the early Religious Society of Friends.
Since the 17th century, some 700 Friends have been buried here although there are less than 100 identified plots. The raising of headstones was only sanctioned by BYM (Britain Yearly Meeting) in 1850. In keeping with the Quaker Equality Testimony, headstones are of a uniform size and shape. In recent years, Friends have often favoured cremation and the burial ground is often used for the scattering of ashes. The Friends manage the burial ground in a way that encourages wild flowers so a mowing regime for spring and early summer flowers in one area, and late summer flowers in another, has been implemented.
In the chancel of St Andrews Church is a sculpted wall plaque dedicated to the memory of Edward Hasell of Dalemain. The plaque depicts a mourning woman beside an urn decorated with a coat of arms. Born in 1765, Edward was the son of Christopher Hasell and grandson of Edward Hasell (known as Blackcap) who died possessor of Dalemain in 1781. Aged sixty years old, Edward died on 24th December 1826 and the monument was erected by his surviving children who were united in describing their father as “one of the best and most affectionate parents.” The monument dates to 1830 and is the work of the 19th century British sculptor Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey. Having made his name in 1811 with a plaster model of a bust of the politician Horne Tooke, Chantrey was a well known sculptor of celebrated figures of Georgian England.
In the south chapel at Lanercost Priory is the tomb of Charles Howard, tenth Earl of Carlisle, and his wife Rhoda Ankaret. Born in 1867, Howard was a British soldier who served in the Second Boer War as a Captain. Following a military career, Howard served as a politician and was elected MP for Birmingham South in 1904. He held his seat in the House of Commons until 1911 when he entered the House of Lords having succeeded his father in the earldom. Howard died in 1912 aged just forty four and was laid to rest at Lanercost. The tomb was designed by the Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer and features the Dacre scallop shells and coat of arms. The inscription is taken from Proverbs 4:18 and reads “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more until the perfect day.”
In the south arcade of the presbytery is the elaborate canopied tomb of Lord Thomas and Lady Elizabeth Dacre. Born in 1467, Thomas was the son of Humphrey Dacre, 1st Baron Dacre of Gilsland. In 1487/1488, Thomas married Elizabeth Greystoke, 6th Baroness Greystoke and they had seven children. The carved decoration on the tomb would have been brightly painted but due to erosion this has been lost.
Thomas fought at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 against Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond. The rival forces of Richard III were defeated and Richard himself was killed. His early support for the House of Tudor earned Thomas some favour with Henry VII who continued to trust his services for the remainder of his reign. Thomas was named deputy to the Lord Warden of the Marches in 1485 and eventually became Warden himself in 1509.
Henry VII named Thomas a Knight of the Bath in 1503. Swearing loyalty to Henry VIII in 1509, Thomas and his forces served under Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, in the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. Thomas commanded the Border Lancers at the battle in which the invading army of James IV of Scotland was defeated. Henry VIII named Thomas Knight of the Garter in 1518 and he died on campaign in Scotland on 24th October 1525.
In the side chapels at the east end of the priory church are several tombs of Lanercost’s patrons from the death of Randolf, the first Lord Dacre, in 1339 to the 20th century. The above monument commemorates Elizabeth Dacre Howard who died on 17th July 1883 aged only four months.
The exquisite life size terracotta effigy is the work of the renowned sculptor Sir Edgar Boehm. Born in Vienna, Boehm became a naturalized Briton in 1866 and was a favourite choice of Queen Victoria. Commissioning Boehm to produce numerous statuettes of her family, she appointed him Sculptor in Ordinary to the Queen in 1881.
Such monuments and memorials to children were extremely rare before the late 18th / early 19th centuries. The monument depicts the body above a chest tomb lying in repose with its head resting on a corner tasselled pillow.