Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme finished in early 2024 with projects successfully delivered by a wide range of project partners, community groups and individuals. 
Over the coming months, we’ll be updating this site to highlight what’s been achieved, so please keep checking back.

Welcome …

… to the Westmorland Dales website.

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme aimed to unlock and reveal the hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales, enabling more people to connect with, enjoy and benefit from this inspirational landscape. Specifically, its objectives were to:

  • Reveal the area’s hidden heritage.
  • Conserve what makes the area special.
  • Engage people in enjoying and benefitting from their heritage.
  • Sustain the benefits of the scheme in the long-term.

This was achieved through a programme of projects developed and delivered through the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership, led by Friends of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and mainly funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It ran over a five-year period from March 2019 to February 2024.

Here you can discover what makes the area so special, find out about the scheme’s projects, and view and download resources produced.

The Westmorland Dales

The Westmorland Dales is a beautiful area of Cumbria lying  north of the Howgill Fells and within the north-west corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It stretches from Tebay in the south-west to Kirkby Stephen in the east and to Maulds Meaburn in the north-west. At its heart are the limestone fells above Orton and Asby, rich in natural and cultural heritage, and with magnificent views to the Pennines, the Howgills and the Lakeland fells. It drains into the Lune river catchment to the south and the Eden river catchment to the north. Relatively overlooked compared with its better-known neighbours, our projects have aimed to reveal its heritage for more to enjoy without detracting from its unique qualities. (Click on map for larger image)

Contact information

Friends of the Lake District
Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 7SS
Main Telephone:  01539 720788
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
Yoredale, Bainbridge, Leyburn, North Yorkshire DL8 3EL
Main Telephone:  01969 652300

Led by the YDNPA historic environment team, assisted by Eden Heritage, the project involved the digging of test pits by volunteers in the village of Ravenstonedale, giving an insight into the medieval and post-medieval development of the village.

A community-based test pitting project within a historic village settlement to further understanding of village history. The project will raise awareness and interest in local history, build links to the past and bring together different generations to share an appreciation in local history and gain skills.

Project lead: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

The medieval villages in the Westmorland Dales provide ideal locations for community archaeology projects. Many of the villages have local history groups, primary schools and active parish councils who would be keen to get involved in this unusual opportunity which they can see through from beginning to end. 

Through a process of elimination a number of villages will be considered for the ‘Digging the Past’ project.  The strongest candidates have schools and active Parish Councils and History groups who would support the project.  Further research still needs to take place before a decision is made on the project location, although some settlements have been discounted including Tebay (which is relatively modern) and Maulds Meaburn which is constrained by a large area designated as a scheduled monument. Key candidates include Crosby Ravensworth, Great Asby, Ravenstonedale and Crosby Garrett.  There are also a number of smaller medieval settlements that could feature as an addition to a larger project. e.g. Raisbeck 

Many villages in the project area exhibit evidence of late medieval shrinkage, and could make interesting test pit locations. The two villages which stand out the most are Crosby Ravensworth and Ravenstonedale. Crosby Ravensworth stands out because of the late medieval pele tower and moated site at Crosby Hall. There are a number of vacant crofts, so permissions assuming, the practicalities of locations for test pits could be met easily. Ravenstonedale is the other strong contender because of the early medieval church and cemetery (St Oswalds Church) and later Gilbertine monastery. Just to the west of the village there is earthwork evidence of a settlement that is alleged to be Iron Age. 

Project Purpose

  • To increase knowledge and understanding enabling people to discover their shared history, engendering a sense of pride.
  • To provide ‘hands- on’ training in archaeological excavation and recording of test pits, finds interpretation, processing, identification and teamwork.
  • To inform interpretation for both visitors and locals.
  • To provide accessible archaeology to local people and new audiences which provide health and wellbeing benefits.
  • To support the work of local history and archaeology groups.
  • To deliver curriculum linked educational activities for local Primary Schools.
  • To undertake a minimum of 25 1m2 test pits throughout the village.
  • To improve understanding, both spatial and chronological, of village development.
  • To create new records – and enhance the HER for the selected village
  • To inform planning and conservation work or enhance the need for designations.
  • To inform and involve local researchers and academics and encourage further heritage work in the future.