ago the Eden Valley was buried beneath
a sheet of ice 600 feet deep, as the temperature
began to rise the ice sheets groaned, cracked and retreated northwards.
Torrents of melt-water shaped the landscape into the river, valleys
and scoured hills that we see today.
The first Cumbrians reached the Eden Valley as they followed their prey up to the limits of the ice around 10,000years. By about 5,000BC the improving climate brought open forests of birch and pine, followed by denser vegetation of oak, ash, hazel and elm. This enabled the early Cumbrians of the Middle Stone Age to settle the region as hunters and gathers. The prehistoric Cumbrians of the New Stone Age around 3000BC introduced spinning, weaving and pottery, and were the first farmers, cultivators and herders.
Early in the second millennium BC, as the Stone Age was transforming into the Bronze Age a group of prehistoric herdsmen arrived in the Eden valley by way of the Pennine passes from Yorkshire and Northumbria. These settlers known as the Beaker people were responsible for the construction of the great stone circles and monuments. The most impressive of these in Cumbria is Long Meg and her daughters at Little Salkeld near Dufton. The stone circles served as meeting and trading places, and were located along the trade routes that pass through the Eden valley. These early settlers lived along the fellside near what became Dufton village, and from many of their burial mounds located near the village on Brackenber moor have come important 'grave remains'. Of particular interest is the ancient Druidical Judgement Seat near Dufton that has recently been archaeologically surveyed. DNA evidence suggests that today's Cumbrians have a much closer degree of inherited affinity with those very early settlers than with the people who settled the region at a later time, such as the Celts, Angles, Norse and Normans.
Between 300 and 200BC iron
using Celtic people crossed the Pennines and arrived in the Eden valley.
Technically the Celtic tribes were more advanced than their Bronze Age
neighbours. They introduced an advanced mixed farming economy in which
the horse was bred for riding and as a draught animal. Castle Hill on
the edge of the woods at Dufton is a Celtic Iron Age defended farm,
where a pastoral community practised a type of garden agriculture. This
ancient Dufton farmstead was an enclosed square of about one acre housing
seven round huts and a quern, a square hut was added at a later period.
The Roman legions arrived in the Eden valley about 71AD, and attempted to crush the troublesome Brigantes and their fierce mounted Celtic warriors. The Brigantes and Carvetii had taken part in a historic revolt against the Romans a few years before, and orders from Rome insisted the rebels were dealt with. The Romans established a fort at Brougham, Brocavum, an important crossroads for trade routes and a river crossing. This location was selected because it was near Clifton Dykes, which was the 'headquarters' of the Carvetii people. At KirbyThore, Bravoniacum, a marching camp was built and at Crackenthorpe a signal station both of which were along the road from York to Carlisle, and both buildings very near to Dufton. There still remains an original Roman milestone along this road near the village of Dufton. Just north of Dufton at Bravoniacum another road was built by Romans to provide access to the very important lead and silver mines on the fells above Dufton. A mile from Dufton at the Roman fortlet of Castrigg there was evidence that the local tribes traded with the Romans. Evidence from the Vindolanda tablets show that meat, hides, wool, hay, corn and milk were traded, as well as Celtic beer. It is known such items as vechile parts, including wheels, axles and various metal items were being traded. The Carvetii farmsteads along the fellside around Dufton flourished, pollen studies indicate that during this period considerable forest clearance occurred along with an expansion in agriculture that was needed to supply the Roman fort and the towns that developed outside them.
The period following the Roman withdrawl from the north was perhaps the most fascinating time in the history of the Eden valley. By the fifth century the Eden valley was part of the kingdom of Rheged. The most important king of Rheged was Urien, the monarch who heroically fought the invading Angle tribes, his headquarters were located at nearby Morland. His son Owien was a prominent knight in the legends of King Arthur, there are many Arthurian tales associated with the region. Fragments of the Nennius text, the lost chronicles of North Britain, describe Arthur's campaign against the invading Angles. Research shows that of the thirteen battles listed, nine were fought by Arthur in the region of the Eden valley and Hadrian's Wall. On Urien's death Rheged became subserviant to the kingdom of Strathclyde, during this time the Celtic people of the enlarged Strathclyde kingdom and the people of the Welsh kingdom became known as Cymry, the Celtic word for compatriots. From Cymry came the names Cumberland and Cumbria. After the Battle of Chester in 615 came the decline of the Cymry, the powerful Anglian kingdom of Northumbria had driven a wedge between the Celtic people of Wales and Cumbria, and the movement of Angles into Cumbria accelerated. It was at this time that the Angle settlement of Dufton began to develop. Interestingly, whereas the name Cumberland has its origins in the Celtic word Cymry, Westmorland is derived from the Angle word Westmaringland, the land of the western border, which is how the Angles viewed the region from their Northumbrian homeland.
There were various waves of Angle settlers into Cumbria during the seventh century, but settlements with name endings of tun or ton, enable the origins of Dufton to be dated towards the year 670. Dufton was among a cluster of a dozen villages that formed a distinct group along the fellside. This pattern of Angle farmsteads show a concerted settlement under Northumbrian rule. These Angles were farmers, and brought with them strong ploughs to work the fertile soil of the Eden valley. Dufton would have contained up to ten families housed close together in cruck constructed dwellings. Their farming system was to communally work a three field arrangement. One large field divided into strips would be worked by the villagers to grow oats and some wheat, in another field pulses such as beans were grown and another field left fallow, there was also common grazing land for the village.
The Angles were very superstitious which is why their villages such as Dufton were built about a mile away from the Roman road through the Eden valley. They believed the Roman remains such as the roads and forts were the work of giants. Many of the fascinating superstitions and customs we still have today stem from this time in our history.
it was regarded almost as a rite of passage for English kings to undertake
the conquest of Scotland, which they regarded as a breakaway region.
The Scots for their part, believed it was their divine mission to dish
the English by any means necessary and hurl them back over the border.
As for the Cumbrians they were caught in the middle, their lands were
a constant battlefield, the border battlelands. It was regarded
by many as a time for Cumbria when 'Christ and all the saints were sleeping'.
A consequence of this war torn past is still reflected in today's Cumbrian
way of life. The Cumbrian dialect has well over a hundred
words for describing the different ways of hitting someone, and Westmorland
and Cumberland wrestling is still practiced at sporting events.
turbulent border country was to be ravaged by war, rebellion and constant
quarrelling for centuries to follow. To strengthen his hold on
Cumbria William Rufus moved trusted lords and peasants from the south
to settle in the area in an attempt to ensure loyalty and establish
southern customs. He also ordered a line of fortification to be built
along the Eden Valley, a castle was built at Appleby, and
what began as a cluster of Norse farmsteads in the early tenth century
grew into the town of Appleby. The king granted Ranulph de Meschines,
a powerful soldier and fierce warlord, the Earldom of Carlisle.
Ranulph ruled his border empire which included the Eden valley, and
which continued to be disrupted by the rebellious Cumbrians. The
rebels were led by the Earl Boethar who from his headquarters near Buttermere
inflicted defeat after defeat on the Norman lord. With the sinking
of the White Ship, in 1120, Ranulph was replaced and command of the
Eden valley and the barony of Appleby passed to his sister the wife
of Robert d'Estrivers. Their daughter carried the barony in marriage
to Ranulph Engain. In 1135 King Henry I died, there was upheaval
as his daughter Matilda and nephew Stephen battled for the crown of
England. Eventually, for supporting Stephen's claim King David
of Scotland was granted control of Cumbria, once again Dufton found
itself in Scottish hands. King David gave the barony of Appleby
to Simon de Morville, and many of the estates on the border were given
to Anglo-Normans such as the 'de Bruces', and 'de Balliols' from
whose families would come two Scottish kings. The twenty years
that King David had control of Cumbria was a time that saw Cumbria flourish.
In a peaceful period Carlisle changed from a border garrison town to
a centre of trade and commerce. But kings of this period were
not to be trusted, and in 1157 Dufton found itself back in England as
The Scots still angered at the loss of Cumbria continued their raids into England. The Anglo-Saxon chronicles record how in 1174 they were able to capture Appleby Castle with ease. King Henry called the men of Appleby traitors and accused them of aiding the Scots. The subsequent assizes in 1175 demanded to know why there had been no resistance to the Scots, and why the castle had surrendered with out a struggle. It is at this assizes that Robert de Dufton is fined 40 shillings, and this is the very first occasion that the name Dufton is recorded.
In 1204 King
John gave the Barony of Appleby to Robert de Veteripont, the king also
made Robert the Sheriff of Westmorland and custodian of Appleby Castle.
These were troubled times for King John, it is regarded as the most
disastrous of reigns of any monarch. King John lost his lands in France,
suffered a rebellion by his own barons, the Northerners, and he fought
a civil war and was forced to concede to the Magna Carta. At one
stage a French prince controlled more than half of king John's kingdom,
and the king of Scotland ruled the northern counties of England.
granted to Appleby in 1200 by King John ensured that for the next century
Appleby became a prosperous market town, run by some very sharp-dealing
merchants, and the surrounding district including Dufton continued to
flourish as well.
Dufton Family Website