Bewcastle shown within Cumbria
|Population||411 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|District||City of Carlisle|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
|UK Parliament||Penrith and The Border|
According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 411. The parish is large and includes the settlements of Roadhead, Shopford, Blackpool Gate, Roughsike and The Flatt. To the north the parish extends to the border with Scotland. As well as Bewcastle Castle this border area includes Askerton Castle.
The origin of the name Bewcastle can be traced accurately from its spelling in ancient documents. These show that it was originally "bothy/booth caster", which translates as "the Roman fort where there were bothies or shielings". 'Cæster' is "an Anglican side-form of OE 'ceaster', referring to the defences of the Roman camp...a medieval fortress was built within these defences..." The original form of the first element "was clearly 'Buth-' from ON búð, 'booth."  (OE=Old English; ON=Old Norse).
Antiquarians, who did not have our access to well-catalogued and studied ancient documents, leapt at the chance to link the place name with a semi-mythological figure named Bueth, due to his romantic links with the prestigious Barony of Gilsland. The well-respected book "The Place-names of Cumberland"  states that it is impossible for Bewcastle to be named after Bueth.
Church and cross
St Cuthbert's churchyard contains the famous 7th Century Bewcastle Cross. The sundial on its surface is the oldest in Britain, divided into the four 'tides' which governed the working day in medieval times. Its importance has been described by Nikolaus Pevsner thus; "The crosses of Bewcastle and Ruthwell....are the greatest achievement of their date in the whole of Europe." A reconstruction of the whole cross is located in the churchyard of St Mary's neo-Romanesque Church at Wreay near Carlisle, but this differs in style and detail from the original. Stephen Matthews calls the Wreay cross a "reinvention".
Bewcastle is also known for its unusual hexagonal Roman fort, which has been identified as Fanum Cocidi.
Two brothers born in Bewcastle, Joseph Armstrong (1816–1877) and George Armstrong (1822–1901), became noted steam locomotive engineers; their careers were spent mainly on the Great Western Railway.
- Armstrong, A. M.; Mawer, A.; Stenton, F. M.; Dickens, B. (1950). The place-names of Cumberland. English Place-Name Society, vol.xx. Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 60–61.
- Armstrong, 1950, p..60-61
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1967) The buildings of England - Cumberland and Westmorland. Penguin Books.
- Matthews, S. 2007. Sarah Losh and Wreay Church; Bookcase, Carlisle
- Marshall 1978, pp. 13–14
- Marshall, John (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of Railway Engineers. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7489-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bewcastle.|
- Cumbria County History Trust: Bewcastle (nb: provisional research only - see Talk page)
- Bewcastle website, description, history, Bewcastle Cross, what's on
- Brief description
- The Cumbria Directory - Bewcastle
- GENUKI page
- Derivation of place-name
- FANVM COCIDI Roman Fort
- Map sources for Bewcastle Village