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(See also Bew Castle)
Bewcastle is a small scattering of cottages and farms north of Hadrian's Wall. Bewcastle (alias Shopford) developed because of its strategic siting along the English-Scottish border. In the area was a Roman fort built cAD79 that later became a Saxon stronghold, Bew Castle, and served to defend the border during Norman times.
After the Act of Union with Scotland, the border wars ceased. Then Bewcastle became a free-for-all lawless area before entering into a more settled and law abiding period. Agriculture and sheep provided a means for making a living. Drovers passed this way herding their cattle and sheep to the southern markets.
The Saxon church, dedicated to St Cuthbert, was built within the site of the Roman fort. Rebuilt in the late 1790's and early 1900's, the church retains its early 13th century east end. A low tower sits at the west end. A 17th century chalice survives.
Near the south porch of the church in the churchyard is the Anglo-Saxon Bewcastle Cross (possibly late 7th to mid 8th century dating). The 15-foot high pillar's sides are covered with high quality carved runes, vine scrolls, knot patterns, and sacred symbols. St John the Baptist and Christ are two of the figures. The original cross-head is missing. It is rumoured to be a tribute to King Alcfrith (died c670). There is a building on the site with interpretive panels about the cross and history of the area.
Many of the homes in the area were built from the stones of the Roman fort. Schools were established in the hamlet in the 18th century.
The ruins of stone pele towers are found in the surrounding moorland. They are prominent reminders of the past history of Bewcastle.
Bewcastle Cross is in the care of English Heritage.
Castle remains on private land, Demesne Farm. View from nearby footpath only.
Bewcastle is located 9 miles north of Brampton on a minor road off the B6318.
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