Saturday, 28 November 2015

Dating Vikings

Kentmere Valley
Just a short blog to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who helped with our crowdfunding call a few months back.  The money was raised, handed over to Kendal Museum, the boat was dated and proven to be Viking!  Yay!  This is fantastic news and really helps to put another important block of Cumbrian history firmly in to place.

We got involved when we approached the museum with a view to taking some pictures of the boat for our book.  Naturally there was a charge involved but as we were writing the book on a shoestring we came up with a more creative solution - we asked if they'd allow us to use the photos in exchange for a promise to raise the money needed to date the boat - thankfully they trusted us enough to agree.

Below is the press release from the museum - please take a moment to read it and, next time you're in Kendal, pop along to visit them and see the boat.  In an era of tightening budgets when more and more museums are coming under threat (this happened in Lancashire just this week) we really MUST support them in any way we can. Kendal Museum is one of the oldest museums in the country and has a superb array of artefacts from the Egyptians to the local Vikings - it's a fantastic place to visit and something the town should all be really proud of.

Kendal Museums ‘Viking Boat’

A wooden dugout boat was found in 1959 in the bed of Kentmere Tarn by Mr Leslie Ridding, operator of the drag line excavator at the Cape Asbestos Company diatomite works.  It was donated to Kendal Museum by the landowner and after many years in store it is now on public display.  Another boat was found four years earlier in 1955 (by the same workman) and it is believed to date from c.1300-1320. The earlier boat went for conservation at the National Maritime Museum and is now housed at the Windermere Jetty Museum.

Due to the dating of the first boat it was always thought that the Kendal Museum boat was earlier as it was found deeper, and is of a more basic type. It has always been called the ‘Viking’ boat but has never been scientifically dated……until now.

VIKING boat (Pic taken from our Historic Cumbria book)

Wanda Lewcun, a student on the Kendal Museum Diploma in Cultural Heritage Course last year, and now a volunteer, wanted to pursue the dating of the boat as a project.  Oxford Archaeology North were contacted and they came to examine the boat in June 2015 and a small fragment was removed for analysis.  Denise Druce, the Environmental Archaeology Specialist from OAN found it to be Ash which is only suitable for radiocarbon dating, so it was sent to the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre for radiocarbon dating.  The costs for the project were raised through crowdfunding organised by the author Beth Pipe on her blog Cumbrian Rambler, and through private donations.

When the results came back they showed that there is a 95.4% probability that the boat is late 10th to mid-12th century, and is most likely to be pre-Norman conquest.  Morag Clement, Archaeology Curator said “It is very exciting to finally have a date for the boat that links it to the Late Viking Period.  It really is the Kendal Museum Viking Boat.  This date also proves that the boat is several hundred years earlier than the first boat discovered in Kentmere Tarn.”

Fifty five years after its discovery it is on display and accompanies a handful of other Viking age objects that survive from the Kendal area.  

PS If you want to buy our book, which covers 10 sites across Cumbria including Kentmere, then click here.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

How to write a book

Our book - in Waterstone's!
It's only now we've finally written and published a book that I realise every book on every bookshelf contains two stories - the story within the book and the story of how the book came to be written.  If you ask Google "How to write a book" you'll get over 26 million results - many of them will tell you about the structure and the process of writing a book but few will tell you about the journey the author has been on - so let me tell you our story (and don't worry, I'm only going to cover the highlights).

Childhood:  My addiction to books began early - prompted by older bookworm siblings, aged 4, I nagged my mum to teach me to read before I started school.  Throughout my childhood I progressed from Janet and John to pretty much anything Enid Blyton ever wrote.

I clearly recall visits to the local library - I remember how it smelled with its wooden floors and miles of wooden bookshelves.  I remember being fascinated by the "trains with the faces" books (Thomas the Tank engine long before the cartoon series) and I remember the excitement of clutching 6 library tickets and knowing I could pick any 6 books I wanted (within reason!).  I also remember the HUGE carousel of library tickets behind the checkout counter, the swoosh it made as the librarian spun it to find the ticket for my book and the "kerthump-chink" of the date stamp on the inside cover.

Teen years:  Still reading and Malcolm Saville's "Lone Pine" series entered the mix.  I also tackled Gone With the Wind, All Quiet on the Western Front and Z for Zachariah.  Then there were the books we were forced to read for exams:  Lord of the Flies (hated it!), Midsummer Night's Dream (at least it was funny) and the World War 1 poets (absolutely loved them and still do).

My first foray into real life adventure books began with "The Dove" by Robin Lee Graham - the story of the round the world sailing trip he made when he was just a teenager.

To be honest I read a lot less at Uni as I was a) too busy studying and b) too busy drinking... (hope my mum isn't reading this)

The working years...  Books came back into my life in a big way at roughly the same time commuting did and Richmond Library was my supplier of choice.  It was there that one day I borrowed "The Turquoise Mountain" by Brian Blessed (who I vaguely remembered from Z-Cars).  He introduced me to the mystery of Mallory and Irvine, so I borrowed books about them, which led me to Heinrich Harrer, Edmund Hilary, Joe Tasker, Scott, Bonington, Shipton and a passion for mountaineering books that continues to this day.

My fav spot around Fleet Pond
Steve:  We met in 2002 and married in 2003 having bonded while solving the problem of 24 sausages on a BBQ and no bread roles.  We started off living in his tiny bachelor pad before saving enough to finally move to our "if not forever then at least for a really long time" home in Fleet in Hampshire.  Steve was happily working away in IT and I took my first steps into freelance training with a lovely part time job to keep me ticking over.  Life was good!

In September 2009 the dark clouds of the recession and job losses began to gather; by summer 2010 the writing was on the wall and it became clear that we had some big decisions to make. We headed off for 6 weeks in our camper van to get our heads together (and I will be forever grateful to my boss of the time for allowing me that essential sabbatical).

Having explored Northumberland and Dumfries & Galloway we ended up in Cumbria - while I'd been busy reading my way around the West Midlands Steve had been preoccupied with growing up in Kents Bank and wanted to show me his old stomping ground, which was when the idea hit us - let's start a whole new life.  You can read the details of how all that unfolded here - below I'm now going to tell the rest of our story via my social media updates which pop up in my "on this day in history" type app.

Nov 2010 following a house hunting trip
to Cumbria
We ended up living in our campervan for 3 months while our house in Fleet failed to sell.  I was working full time for Lancashire County Council and doing a spot of blogging on the side.  We eventually moved into a tiny bungalow with bags of potential while the tenant from hell took over our house in Fleet - it took us well over a year of absolute desperation on the money front while we got him out and eventually sold the house.

Our plan now was to build up the writing side of things using my words and Steve's pics so we began working (for free at first) with anyone who'd have us.

By November 2012 things had begun to pick up and this happened.

This was the new profile pic I mention in the post:

There then followed a couple of bumpy years - summarised here - where we got involved in anything and everything we could and learned loads about ourselves, the world of writing and Cumbria.  Then on 5th August 2014 this email popped in:

"Dear Beth Pipe,

I work for Amberley Publishing, and came across your blog about Life and Hiking in Cumbria.
I was wondering if you’d be interested in producing a book ..."

Naturally I was convinced it was a wind up, but apparently not.  By the time content was agreed and contracts were signed it was November.  I'd kept the secret from my friends for 3 months (a miracle really) but now was the time to break the news...

Reading back I fear I sound a little grouchy about the deal - not so - the message I was trying to convey to my friends was that we weren't about to become overnight millionaires rather than any dissatisfaction with the contract.  Believe me, we were over the blooming moon that anyone was prepared to take a chance on us!

There then followed many months of me hiding away in libraries while Steve was out and about taking the photos. before we delivered the final draft of the book at the end of June 2015 - all we had to do now was wait...

The day it finally arrived my over-riding emotion before I saw it was, believe it or not, fear.  What if it looked awful?  What if there were loads of typos?  What if people hated it?  What if I'd got all my facts wrong?  I've seen other writers talk about their delight and excitement when they first saw their first book for the first time - I was more overwhelmed in a "Really?  Did we just actually do this?" kind of a way.

It's gradually sinking in now as sales are taking off and most days see us off to drop books into a small local shop or send them out in the post - and the feedback so far has been good so I may even open that long awaited bottle of fizz to celebrate this weekend.

As coincidence would have it a friend from Fleet sent us some photos of our old house a few days ago.  The new owners are doing the extension we'd always planned to and it's looking great.  We had a moment when we saw the photos as we peered around our still small bungalow with half our stuff still in boxes in the undercroft (and by "half our stuff" I mean several dozen boxes of books for me and three thousand miles of computer cable for Steve), but the reality is, if we'd stayed there we'd have missed out on all the adventures we've had together over the past few years and, most importantly, we'd never have learned how to write a book.

PS You can buy the book here. :-)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Bibliography

An odd post this - but it was the only way we could think of doing it.  Our book is now out and we were on a pretty strict word count so when we announced to the publisher that our bibliography was best part of 1000 words they asked us to trim it for the print edition, which we did.  However I do want to give full credit to all our sources so the full list of our references is below.  (And I had SO much fun ferreting around in libraries for them all!)

Armstrong, Margaret, Thirlmere Across the Bridges to Chapel 1849 – 1852 (Peel Wyke, 1989)
Bampton & District Local History Society, A Cast Iron Community (Bampton & District Local History Society, 2006)
Birkett, Bill, A Year in the Life of the Langdales, (Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2004)
Brown, Alisdair, The Beauty of Buttermere or A Maid Betrayed  (Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, 1979)
Budworth, Joseph, A Fortnight’s Ramble to the Lakes (Cadell and Davies, 1810)
Carrall, Geoffrey, Wythburn Church & the valley of Thirlmere (Piper Publications, 2006)
Carruthers, F J, People Called Cumbri (Robert Hale, London, 1979)
Collingwood W G, Two Bronze Amulets (Cumbria & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, 1904)
Collingwood, W G, Lake District History (Titus Wilson & Sons, 1928)
Cooper, D G, The Crummock Water Aureole (Journal of the Geology Society of London V145, 1988)
Cooper, Swainson, Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Pt 1 Vol XI (Titus Wilson, 1889)
Cox, Thomas, Magna Britannia: A Topographical, Ecclesiastical and Natural History (Thomas Cox, 1700)
Darrall, Geoffrey, Wythburn Church and the Valley of Thirlmere (Piper Publications, 2006)
Day, Adam, To Bid Them Farewell: A Foot & Mouth Diary (Hayloft Publishing, 2004)
Edgar, Gordon, The Settle to Carlisle Railway (Amberley Publishing, 2014)
Edmunds, Mark, The Langdales – Landscape and Pre History in a Lakeland Valley, (The History Press, 2010)
Farquhar, Sir Robert, Objections to the Thirlmere Scheme (Printed at Lakes Chronicle Offices 1879)
Farrer, William, Curwen, John, Records Relating to the Barony of Kendale Volume 1 (Kendal: Titus Publishing, 1923)
Ferguson, Robery, The Northmen in Cumberland and Westmoreland (Longman and Co, 1856)
Fraser, Maxwell, Companion into Lakeland (London, Methuen and Co, 1937)
Gamble, Robert, Lake District Place Names (Hayloft Publishing 2013)
Gannon, Paul, Rock Trails of Lakeland (Pesda Press Ltd, 2009)
Gregory, Christopher, The Extractive Industries of Kentmere, (Staveley and District History Society, 2000)
Harwood, Sir John James, History and description of Thirlmere Water Scheme (Blacklock & Co Printers, 1895)
Hodgson, John, A Topographical and Historical Description of Westmorland (Sherwood, Neely & Jones, 1810)
Hoyle, Norman, Sankey, Kenneth, Thirlmere Water a Hundred Miles a Hundred Years (Centwrite, 1994)
Hudson, John, Sketches of Grange (Original 1850, reprint, Landy Publishing, 2001)
Hunt, Irvine, Old Lakeland Transport (Rusland Press, 1978)
Levi, Jan, And Nobody Woke up Dead (St Edmundsbury Press, 2006)
Lysons Daniel, Magna Britannia: Cumberland, (Cadell and Davies, 1816)
Mannex, P J, History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland (Simkin, Marshall & Co, 1849)
Moon, Michael & Sylvia, Bygone Whitehaven VIII (Michael Moon’s Bookshop, 1976)
Murray, John, A Tour in the English Lakes with Thomas Gray and Joseph Farington (Frances Lincoln, 2012)
Nicholson, J W, A History of the Manor of Crosby Garrett (J W Braithwaite & Sons, 1914)
Nicholson, Joseph, The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland (Nicholson, Joseph, 1777)
Nightingale, Benjamin, The Ejected of 1662 in Cumberland and Westmorland (Manchester University Press, 1911)
Nixon, John, Wings over Sands (Razorsharp Books, 2012)
Pain, Rollo, Why Cartmel? Survival of a Small Racecourse (Lakeland Heath, 2001)
Palmer, W J, Memories of Dunmail Raise (Cycling Magazine, December, 1927)
Philipson, Douglas, Lakeland Bobbin Makers (Handstand, 2010)
Pugmire Martin, The Possible Roman Road between Ambleside and the Keswick Area (CWAAS Vol IV Titus - Wilson & Son, 2004)
Ramshaw, David, The English Lakes (P3 Publications, 1996)
Richard, Guthrie, A Tour Through Old Lakeland (Stenlake Publishing, 1996)
Rough Fell Sheep Breeders Association, Kendal Rough Fell Sheep (Stramongate Press, 2006)
Smith, Colin, A guide to Milestones, Mileposts and Tollbuildings of Cumbria (Brow Bottom Enterprises, 2011)
Smith, George, Dreadful Storm in Cumberland (Gentleman’s Magazine V24, 1754)
Stockdale, James, Annals of Cartmel (William Kitchen, 1872)
Swallow, Bob, Against the Grade (Great Northern Books, 2011)
Tyler, Ian, Thirlmere Mines and the Drowning of the Valley (Smith Settle, 1999)
Whitehall, Penny, Smardale Summers (Heathdene Publications, 2014)
Wilson, Richard Saul, The History of Cumberland Volume 2 (Richard Wilson, 1905)
Woods, Jack, The North Road (J Woods, 1996)
Wright, Joseph, The English Dialect Dictionary V3 (Henry Frowde, 1905)
Archaeology UK  
British History Online
English Lakes
Fell and Rock Climbing Club
Herdwick Breeders Association
Honister Slate Mine
Kentmere Village
Northern Viaduct Trust
The Megalithic Portal
The Wainwright Society

Miscellaneous Papers
LANCASTER ENVIRONMENT CENTRE, Rare Fish Monitoring Report, March 2011
Report of the proceedings of the trial of John Hatfield for Forgery – By “A shorthand writer” Printed by B Mace London 1803
High Borrowdale: The history of a Westmorland Farm – researched by Cynthia Gregg for Friends of the Lake District
Proceedings of the society of antiquaries of London. November 23, 1899, to June 20, 1901. Second series, vol. Xviii. Feinted by j. B. Nichols and sons.
An Act for Widening, Repairing, and Amending the Road from Hesket, by Yewes Bridge, to Cockermouth; and from thence, by Lorton over Whinlatter, to Keswick, in the County of Cumberland; and from Keswick, by Dunmail Rays and Ambleside, to Kirby in Kendall, in the County of Westmoreland; and from Plumgarth's Cross, near Kirkby in Kendall aforesaid, to the Lake called Windermere, in the County of Westmoreland; and from Keswickaforesaid, to the Town of Penrith, in the County of Cumberland – (Act of Parliament 1762)


CREDIT FOR Gimmer Crag sketch – “C. Douglas Milner FRCC Guide Book. Mountain Heritage Collection”