Kendal Maypole, Kendal, Westmorland

Maypole (destroyed):  OS Grid reference – SD 5161 9212

Archaeology & History

Long since gone, it’s existence was recorded by, amongst others, the Kendal historian Cornelius Nicholson. (1861)  He described it in relation to one of the town crosses, that was removed due to it being “an obstruction in the street.”  The maypole too, he said,

“was another incumbrance, but indispensable, according to the custom of our forefathers.  It stood in Kirkland, opposite the house of the late Thomas Reveley, Esq., and was suffered to remain till within eighty years ago.  In the time of our good Queen Katherine, who may fairly be supposed to have partaken of the amusements, countenanced by her royal consort, the original festivity of maying and morris-dancing would be here celebrated, by the annual ceremony of “maying” when, immediately after sunrise, on the 1st of May, processions, entering the town at various inlets, streamed through the streets, with music of horns and flutes; boys with their May-gads (willow-wands twined with cowslips), and girls with their “brats” full of flowers — young and old alike joining in merry laughter, and song, and the customary chorus, “We have brought the summer home.”  When the above-named ceremonies became less fashionable, the May Pole was made the rendezvous of all the milkmaids in the neighbourhood, who came and paraded round it on Easter Mondays.  On other occasions of rejoicing, afterwards, such for instance, as terminating an apprenticeship, and the like, it became customary for young men to go and dance around it.”

The author then told that this annual village ceremony was still being performed at the beginning of the 19th century, “in the assemblage of young people in the Vicar’s Fields, on Easter Tuesday.  After spending the afternoon there, they returned in procession through the streets, threading grandy needles.”

References:

  1. Nicholson, Cornelius, The Annals of Kendal, Whitaker & Co.: London 1861.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Rawthey Bridge, Fell End, Ravenstonedale, Cumbria

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 714 978

Archaeology & History

This is yet another stone circle that’s been destroyed. It seems to have been described first by Nicolson & Burn (1777) — as “a circle of large stones, supposed to be a monument of druid worship” — but a century later when Reverend Nicholls (1877) came to describe it, he was talking of it in the past tense, saying:

“Fifty years ago there was a circle of stones on the high road leading from Kirkby Stephen to Sedbergh, near Rawthey Bridge, supposed to be a monument of Druid worship.  These stones, I have been informed by Mr. William Alderson of Brigg, were blocks of limestone, about three feet high, and were inconsiderably removed for the purpose of helping to build the abutment on the Ravenstonedale side of the present bridge which spans the Rawthey, and bears (the) date 1822.  The holes in which the stones stood are, however, yet visible, although overgrown with grass.  Collectively they form a circle.”

One writer later (1967) told that the site “seems to have stood on the moor to the left of the road opposite the confluence of the Sally Beck with the Rawthey.”  As far as I’m aware, little more is known of the site. Omitted from Burl’s magnum opus, it was included in Waterhouse’s (1985) fine survey of Cumbrian megaliths, but with no further details.  But another Victorian writer (Thompson 1892) thought it more likely that the ‘circle’ here was, in fact, more likely a barrow or grave-mound.  Sadly, we’ll probably never know…

References:

  1. Anon., Sedbergh, Garsdale and Dent, Reeds: Penrith 1967.
  2. Nicholls, Rev. W., The History and Traditions of Ravenstonedale, John Heywood: Manchester 1877.
  3. Nicolson, J. & Burn, R., The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, London 1777.
  4. Thompson, Rev. W., Sedbergh, Garsdale and Dent, Richard Jackson: Leeds 1892.
  5. Waterhouse, John, The Stone Circles of Cumbria, Phillimore: Chichester 1985.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian