Back in time at Borrowdale

Stone Circle Castlerigg stone circle, Keswick, Cumbria

An ancient place, 4,500 years in the making. Come and experience Borrowdale, which echoes with the stories of people who have inhabited this land for thousands of years. We care for over 29,000 acres in the valley and the past is incredibly important to the conservation work we do.

Did you know?

  • The first inhabitants of Cumbria lived in coastal camps and caves
  • More stone axes were produced in the Lakes than anywhere in Britain
  • A coin of Emperor Nero was found in Borrowdale
  • Many of the present place names in the area are of Norse origin
  • At one time the entire valley was owned by Fountains & Furness Abbeys
  • By the mid-1700s Borrowdale became a major tourist destination
  • By 1847 there were 14 pencil factories in Keswick alone

The geology of Borrowdale

The landscape has a 500-million-year old story to tell. From Whitbarrow bone cave to Emperor Nero, Iron Age hillforts to The Black Death, this valley has seen it all.

Read more about the valley geology (PDF / 0.40625MB) download

Castlerigg Stone Circle

This circle of stones surrounded by its ring of mountains has fired the imagination for about 4,500 years

Discover more about this ancient Neolithic monument (PDF / 0.234375MB) download

Monastic landscape

It is the year of our Lord 1195 and the future of Borrowdale lies in the hands of noblewoman Alice de Rumeli.

Elizabethan miners

500 years ago Cumbria was a land that was despised and generally regarded as worthless. But some of its fells held something that was coveted by the noblest in the land - precious metals.

Who were the Elizabethan miners? (PDF / 0.337890625MB) download

The introduction of tourism

The Lake District became a popular tourist destination, attracting poets, authors and wealthy travellers during their Grand Tours of Europe, and hosted regattas on Derwentwater.

How did the Lake District open up to the masses? (PDF / 0.404296875MB) download