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St Ninian's preconquest monastic site, site of nucleated medieval settlement, St Ninian's Church and churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Brougham, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.663 / 54°39'46"N

Longitude: -2.6827 / 2°40'57"W

OS Eastings: 356060.349099

OS Northings: 529986.241157

OS Grid: NY560299

Mapcode National: GBR 9GQJ.06

Mapcode Global: WH81C.R2Q2

Entry Name: St Ninian's preconquest monastic site, site of nucleated medieval settlement, St Ninian's Church and churchyard

Scheduled Date: 22 October 1970

Last Amended: 29 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016398

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23678

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Brougham

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Clifton St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the buried remains of St Ninian's pre-Conquest monastic
site, the buried remains of the deserted nucleated medieval settlement of
Brougham, St Ninian's 17th century church and the buried remains of its
medieval predecessor, the churchyard, and the socle or base of a medieval high
cross situated in the churchyard to the south of the church. It is located on
the floodplain of the River Eamont south and east of a sharp bend in the
river. Both the monastic site and the site of the medieval settlement have
been identified from cropmarks visible on aerial photographs which clearly
show the infilled ditches of enclosures, pits, field boundaries and structural
foundations. The pre-Conquest monastic site lies to the east of the St
Ninian's Church and is seen from aerial photographs to include an elliptical
enclosure containing three rectangular structures along the inside edge of the
enclosure ditch and faint traces of several other structures. The central of
the three structures is sub-divided into two rooms. This form of monastic
settlement typified by the circular enclosure is of early medieval Irish
influence. A similar site at Hoddom in southern Scotland was excavated in 1992
and showed a series of rectilinear buildings set against the precinct
boundary. Radiocarbon dates from Hoddom indicated that the site was occupied
from the early seventh until the 11th century. The deserted medieval
village of Brougham is seen from aerial photographs to include a series of
linear features interpreted as field boundaries, enclosures and pits covering
a wide area on all sides of the church. To the east of the monastic site
traces of a semi-circular enclosure with an entrance on the western side can
be seen on the aerial photographs, as can a field boundary aligned NNW-SSE,
beyond which can be seen faint traces of a sub-rectangular enclosure.
Documentary sources indicate that a medieval church was located here in 1393.
By the mid-17th century this church was delapidated and derelict; consequently
it was demolished and the present church built on the same site in 1660 by
Lady Anne Clifford. The church is constructed of red sandstone rubble with
regularly spaced buttresses and a slate roof. It has a four-bay nave and a
single-bay chancel; the windows are small and round-arched with single lights,
and are slighly taller in the east and west walls than in the north and south
walls. In the 19th century a porch and bellcote were added. Internally the
church remains almost completely furnished as it was in Lady Anne's time with
much original woodwork, including box pews. The churchyard is trapezoidal in
plan, has maximum dimensions of approximately 60m north-south by 55m east-
west, and is bounded by a sandstone wall. The medieval high cross base
situated in the churchyard to the south of the church consists of a
rectangular sandstone block measuring 1.05m by 0.95m by 0.35m high. The
original cross shaft and head has been replaced by a modern version.
A variety of evidence hints at intermittent or continuous occupation of this
spot from Roman times onwards. During the digging of a grave in the churchyard
in 1914 a hoard of 23 Roman coins was discovered and examination of these
suggests they were deposited between 276 and 286 AD. Local tradition asserts
that a monastic site was founded here by the Scottish saint, Ninian, at the
end of the fourth century AD. In 1846 an eighth century AD
`Hiberno-Saxon' decorated gilt cup mount was reportedly found together with a
number of skeletons. Documentary sources and place-name evidence indicate that
in the mid-13th century the `town' of Brougham was probably sited near to the
present church of St Ninian, although the church at that time was dedicated to
St Wilfred, a Northumbrian saint who lived between AD 634 and 709. By the end
of the 13th century documentary evidence mentions only `the walled church
of Brougham' and it is thought that the settlement had been destroyed and its
lands incorporated within the forest of Whinfell. Over the course of time
St Wilfred's Chapel at Brougham Hall 3.5km away was used for most services and
St Ninian's fell into disuse. It was declared redundant in 1977 and is a Grade
I Listed Building.
All modern field boundaries and telegraph poles are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

From the time of St Augustine's mission to re-establish Christianity in AD 597
monasticism formed an important facet of both religious and secular life in
the British Isles. Early monasteries were built to house communities of monks
or nuns; sometimes houses were `mixed' and included both sexes. The main
buildings provided facilities for worship, accommodation and subsistence. They
included a series of timber halls and perhaps a stone church, all located
within some form of enclosure. Preconquest monastic sites are rare nationally
and fewer than 100 sites have been recognised from documentary sources, of
these the locations of less than half have been confirmed. They are of
considerable importance for the analysis of the introduction of Christianity
into the country and all examples exhibiting survival of archaeological
remains will be identified as nationally important.
A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline,
containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for
Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on
Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals, baptisms, marriages and
funerals. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are
generally divided into two main parts; the nave, which provides accommodation
for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and
contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with
aisles giving additional accommodation. Many parish churches also contain
towers, transepts at the crossing of the chancel and nave, and porches. The
main period of parish church foundation was the 10th to 11th centuries and the
19th century. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of
occasions and hence the visible fabric will be of several different dates.
They are found throughout the country and their distribution reflects the
densities of population at the time they were founded. Parish churches provide
important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic
cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement, and
a significant number of surviving examples are identified as nationally
Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Cumbria-Solway sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, an area characterized by dispersed hamlets and farmsteads,
but with some larger nucleated settlements in well-defined agriculturally
favoured areas, established after the Norman Conquest. Traces of seasonal
settlements, or shielings, dominate the high, wet and windy uplands, where
surrounding communities grazed their livestock during the summer months.
The Inglewood local region is a marked sandstone ridge which separates the
northern part of the Eden valley from the valleys of the Petteril and the
Caldew. This former medieval royal forest bears signs of post-medieval
enclosure in the pattern of straight roads and rectangular fields. Isolated
farmsteads are the characteristic form of settlement.
Despite the fact that no upstanding earthworks survive, St Ninian's
preconquest monastic site and components of the deserted nucleated medieval
settlement remain clearly visible on aerial photographs. The monastic site has
traditional links with the Scottish saint, Ninian, and will facilitate further
study of the spread of late fourth/early fifth century AD Christian settlement
to the upper Eden valley. St Ninian's Church is a rare example of 17th century
Gothic Survival architecture which, apart from the addition of a 19th century
porch and bellcote, has remained relatively unchanged both internally and
externally. A church is known to have been in use on this site in the 14th
century and the finding of a Roman coin hoard and eighth century metalwork,
together with the existence of a medieval high cross base in the churchyard,
confirm that the site was in use for a considerable period before construction
of the present church.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Higham, N, The Northern Counties to AD 1000, (1986), 276
Higham, N, Jones, B, The Carvetti, (1985), 130-2
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland, (1967), 234-5
Bouch, C M L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Ninekirks, Brougham, , Vol. L, (1950), 80-90
Casey, P J, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Ninekirks (Brougham) Hoard; A Reconsideration, , Vol. LXXVIII, (1978), 23-8
AP No 2519,15,
AP No's STJ AVY56; CCC 2709,19A; 2519,15; MU CS 39,20,
Church Guide,
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
Letter to Startin,W, Leech, RH, (1983)
SMR No. 2856, Cumbria SMR, Settlement by St Ninian's Church,
SMR No. 2856, Cumbria SMR, Settlement by St Ninian's Church, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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