Situated on the banks of the River Greta, Burton-in-Lonsdale formed part of the Manor of Whittington.
Prior to the Norman Conquest it was owned by Tostig, Earl of Northumberland and brother to King Harold II. However, the death of Tostig at the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066) and the subsequent overthrow of the Anglo-Saxon rulers by William I, saw the lands confiscated by the new King.
At some point after 1086 it was granted to Nigel de Abigni who had served in William’s army and later would be steward to William II. When Nigel died in 1129 his son, Roger, took his mother’s surname – de Mowbray – founding that powerful medieval family.
It is not precisely clear who built Burton-in-Lonsdale Castle. It may well have been agents for William I during his ownership or perhaps it was Nigel or his son. Either way the castle was erected in either the late eleventh or early twelfth century perhaps to augment the chain of castles the Normans had constructed along the Lune valley.
Initially a ringwork defence – which consisted of a fortified enclosure within an outer bailey – it was later upgraded to a motte-and-bailey structure. Aside from the earthworks the defences of the castle were of timber construction but the interior was well developed; archaeological examination in the early twentieth century confirmed the interior of the castle – including the motte, bailey and even the ditches, had all been paved. Today the mound remains a particularly fine example of a Norman defensive work.
The history of the castle itself is sketchy. The Pipe Rolls of 1130 record a garrison consisting of a Knight, 10 sergeants, a porter and a night watchman as “Burtona de Lanesdala”. Although the manor briefly passed into the hands of William de Lancaster in the mid twelfth century, the Mowbray family soon regained control and kept it as one of their core estates. Burton Castle was used as a centre of administration for their surrounding lands which included large swathes of North West Yorkshire and Lancashire.
After the Battle of Bosworth (1485) the manor of Burton-in-Lonsdale was granted by Henry VII to Sir Edward Stanley – the son of Lord Stanley that had played such a critical role in the King’s victory. However by this time the castle itself had been abandoned having gone out of use at some point between 1322-69.
Whilst me and Ruth were out walking we headed on the back road to Burton-in-Lonsdale. Stopping to look at the river, we continued to the cafe and and had a coffee and a chat. On our way back, we were walking up the hill that leads over the bridge up towards Bentham. Chatting away, I looked down, and at my feet was a small, dark coin.
Looking at it, I knew it was old and put it away to look at later when I got back to our van. It turned out to be a coin from 1890.
I love thinking about who dropped it. What is the life behind it? How many pockets had it been in? Men’s hands, women’s hands would have held it, maybe children.
Did a lady drop it walking to the shop? Did a farmer drop it? Where had it come from to end up in this little village? Was it dropped by a loving couple out for a walk?
Sadly I lost the coin somewhere in the van, so I only have the image that I took.