Little Langdale: Ting Mound

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Located at the rear of Fell Foot Farm in Little Langdale is an unassuming moot mound. Known as the Ting Mound, moots were open air meeting places during Anglo Saxon and Medieval times. Such monuments were situated at convenient or well known sites and could take several forms – a natural feature such as a hilltop, tree or rock, existing man made features such as prehistoric standing stones or a purpose built monument such as a mound. First established between the seventh and ninth centuries AD, moots were originally situated in open countryside but gradually became located in villages or towns. By the 13th century, construction and use of rural moots largely disappeared. Only a small number of man made mounds survive today and the moot at Fell Foot Farm is one of only three known moots in Cumbria. The moot includes a flat topped rectangular earthen mound with rounded corners and is almost three meters high. It features two terraces on the north and east sides, three on the west side and on the south side of the mound, there were originally four terraces.

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This particular spot was on the crossroad of busy trading routes that were established in Roman times. The Romans had built the road along the valley and over Wrynose Pass to link the Galava Fort at Ambleside and Mediobogdum Fort at Hardknott Pass. These forts were two of several fortified structures built to protect the vital trade route through Cumbria with Galava being constructed around 79AD. The Roman road, known as the 10th Iter, ran from the coastal fort at Ravenglass (Glannaventa) up the Eskdale Valley to Hardknott Fort and continued over the Hardknott and Wrynose passes towards the forts at Ambleside and Kendal. Mediobogdum Fort is situated on the western side of Hardknott Pass and was built between 120-138AD. Several centuries later, this long established highway route would have provided the Vikings with the perfect site for their Thing – from the Old Norse meaning meeting or assembly place. The Lake District Vikings arrived from western Norway, via Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. The legacy of the Vikings remains not only in local place names – the practice of dividing holdings with drystone walls has its origins in Norse traditions which has influenced the distinctive view we see in the countryside today. The existence of such Thing Mounds in Cumbria provides a small link to the Viking political system of their time in North West England. The Ting Mound is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

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Dacre: Carved Cross Shafts

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In the chancel of St Andrews Church are two beautifully carved cross shafts. Carved on all four sides, the smaller of the two shafts (above) dates to the 9th century and was found in 1900 deep in clay near to the church. Although significantly damaged, the sharpest and best preserved carving depicts a winged lion with a serpents head. Discovered during restoration work in the 19th century, the larger of the shafts (below) dates to circa 10th century. The narrow set of panels are carved with figures and beasts with hunting scenes a common theme during the Viking period. The bottom panel depicts two figures beneath a large tree and is thought to represent the story of Adam and Eve. An antlered stag with a hound on its back is carved in the panel above. Symbolising the soul being pursued by the forces of evil, the hart and hound motif was an allegorical interpretation limited to Viking era carvings in northern Britain and the Isle of Man where themes from Norse legend occur. The top of the panel is believed to depict the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac.

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Kirkby Stephen: Anglo-Danish Stone Fragments

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On display in an exhibition space in the Parish Church of Kirkby Stephen are fragmentary stone pieces. The above stone is a type of cross-head sometimes referred to as a plate head. Carved out of a large block of sandstone, the arms stand proud and are linked by a raised outer rim. The block has been squared off, truncating the two side arms and removing most of the linking ring. The date of the stone is uncertain but thought likely to be 11th century.

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The above semi cylindrical shaft on display was found in 1847 built into the wall of the chancel. With well preserved patterns on all sides, it has delicately carved ornamentation. The patterns of plaited strands and spiral scrolls are a blend of Saxon and Viking styles and date to the 10th century.

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The above stone fragment is part of a cross head with only two of four cross arms remaining. The arms are linked by a ring which gives the appearance of a wheel and is where its description of a wheel cross is derived. Crudely carved and badly damaged, the stone design was popular in the Viking age and it dates to between 900-1100.