Miscellaneous Antiquities.]—There are several antiquities in Cumberland,
which could not be referred to any of the foregoing heads, of which the
following are the most remarkable. Wetheral Safeguard, or Constantine's
Cells, consisting of three chambers cut out of a rock, at the height of forty
feet above the summer level of the river Eden, with a gallery in front
communicating with each. The most probable conjecture which has been
formed on the subject of these cells, is, that they served for the retreat of
the monks of the adjacent monastery of Wetheral, during the incursions of
the Scots: a particular account of them, with a plan, was communicated
to the Society of Antiquaries in the year 1755, and published in the Archæologia.
Vaulted chamber in walls of Carlisle
Plan and sections
There is a singular vaulted chamber, attached to and within the wall of
the city of Carlisle, between the citadel and the deanery; the only access to
which is by an opening broken through the wall: and it does not appear
that it had originally any entrance: at each end is a recess. A circular
funnel of neatly wrought stone-work rises on one side to the level of the
ground, where it is covered by a large flat stone; another funnel of a form
nearly square, extends from the middle of the arch horizontally to a considerable length inwards (fn. 1) . It is difficult to conceive for what purpose this
building was designed, unless it was intended for holding water; which
the position and construction of the funnels seem to indicate. If the arch
of the vault, which is slightly pointed, had been circular, we should have supposed that this was the "fontem miro quondam Romanorum opere exstruc"tum;" which the citizens of Carlisle shewed St. Cuthbert in the year 685,
as recorded by Bede.
At the back of the stalls in the choir of Carlisle cathedral is the Belief in
Latin, in the text hand of the fourteenth century, and very rude paintings
of the apostles; with a great number of paintings in compartments, representing seventeen different subjects from the legend of St. Anthony, the
same number from that of St. Austin; and twenty-two from that of St.
Cuthbert: with two explanatory English verses under each in text-hand.
At the four corners of Dacre church-yard are rude figures of animals,
five feet high, sitting on their haunches, and clasping a rude pillar or
ragged staff; they seem to have been designed for bears, though they do not
much resemble them, or indeed any other animals. It has been supposed
that they refer to some armorial device of the Dacre family, as the ragged
staff appears connected with the escallop shell, in several of the ornaments
of Naworth castle; though we do not find it any where recorded among the
arms or cognizances of that family.
A Saxon ornament of silver, enriched with red paste, a representation of
which is exhibited in the annexed plate, was found a few years since at
Kirk-Oswald (fn. 2) , with more than 700 of the small Saxon copper coins called
sticas; among which were one of Archbishop Eanbald, fifty-eight of Archbishop Vigmund, and five of Archbishop Vulfhere (fn. 3) : ninety-nine of King
Eanred, three hundred and fifty of King Ethelred, fourteen of King Redulf,
and fifteen of King Osbercht.
A very remarkable silver broach of extraordinary size, the ring being
about seven inches in diameter, and the tongue twenty-two inches in length;
weighing twenty-five ounces, was found in the year 1785 in a field near
Fluskew-pike, in the parish of Dacre. The most probable conjecture respecting it, is, that it was used for fastening a tent (fn. 4) . A fibula of silver was
found in the mud of a fish-pond in Brayton park, and a silver hook
weighing two ounces. (fn. 5)
A small brass kettle, with two handles, standing on three legs, in form exactly resembling the iron ones still in use, was found, a few years since, at the
Roman station on Eskmeals, in the parish of
Ravenglass, and is now in the possession of
E. L. Irton, Esq. It has these devices raised
Devices on kettle found at Eskmeals.
This vessel does not exhibit any thing the least like Roman workmanship, but it has the appearance of great antiquity; having undergone frequent repairs, apparently long after it was manufactured. Several small
holes have been stopped, by bits of copper cut out and rivetted on: and one
of the legs which has been broken is spliced in a very clumsy manner by a
piece of metal soldered on. Another of the same form, but without any
device on it, has been found at the same place, and is also in the possession
of Mr. Irton.
The curious ancient glass vessel called the Luck of Edenhall, on the preservation of which, according to popular superstition, the prosperity of that
house depends, is well known from the Duke of Wharton's ballad, which
"God prosper long from being broke,
The Luck of Edenhall."
It is of a green coloured glass ornamented with foliage, and of different
colours in enamel (fn. 6) : the case of leather, in which it is kept, is ornamented
with scrolls of vine leaves, and on the top are the letters Ihc: from which it
seems probable that this vessel was originally designed for sacred uses. From
the style of the ornaments, it seems to be of as early an age as the beginning
of the fifteenth century, probably earlier.
At Muncaster Castle is also preserved an ancient glass vessel of the basin
kind, about seven inches in diameter, ornamented with some white enamelled
mouldings; which, according to family tradition, was presented to Sir John
Pennington by King Henry VI.
Several remarkable customs formerly prevailed in this county, some of
which still continue. In the parish of Muncaster it is said that the children
go from house to house on New Year's Eve, singing a ditty, which craves
the bounty "they were wont to have in old King Edward's days (fn. 7) ." And
on New Year's Day, in many places of this and the adjoining county of
Westmorland, the common people assemble together, carrying stangs (polls)
and baskets, and hoist up any man who refuses to join them, on the poll;
or woman on the basket; carrying them to the next public house, where the
payment of a small fine liberates the prisoner (fn. 8) . On Easter Eve, in some
parts of the county, the boys and beggars ask for eggs (fn. 9) . In Cumwhitton
they hold the wake on St. John's Eve, with lighting fires (the bel-tien) dancing
&c. (fn. 10) Mr. Pennant says, that the bel-tien superstition was kept up till of late
years, in the neighbourhood of Keswick, and that in this rural sacrifice, it
was customary for the performers to bring with them boughs of the mountain ash (fn. 11) . In the parish of Whitbeck, newly married peasants beg corn to
sow for their first crop, and are called Cornlaiters, and here as well as in
several other places in the county, people keep Wake with the dead (fn. 12) .
The Bride-ale here called a Bride-wain, prevails in several parts of the
county. (fn. 13)