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Beckermet (Cumbria)

Beckermet shown within Cumbria
Population 2310 (2001 census)
OS grid reference NY019067
District Copeland
Shire county Cumbria
Region North West
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district CA21
Dialling code 01946
Police Cumbria
Fire Cumbria
Ambulance North West
European Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Copeland
List of places: UKEnglandCumbria

Coordinates: 54°26'46?N 3°30'58?W? / ?54.446, -3.516

Beckermet is a village and post town in the English county of Cumbria, located near the coast between the towns of Egremont and Seascale. It is served by Braystones railway station and is less than a mile west of the A595 road. It is near - around 2 miles/3km from - the Sellafield nuclear plant which may be seen from the higher parts of the village.


[edit] The name

The natural assumption is that the village is so-named because two becks (local dialect meaning streams- specifically Kirk Beck and Black Beck) meet there. However, the name is pronounced with the accent on the middle syllable (over the years, attempts by people to spell the name as they heard it have resulted in versions like Beck Armett in 1570, and Bekyremet in 1279). In the 12th century there was an h in the middle, the earliest known version, from 1130, being Bechermet, so the English Place-Name Society suggests that the name really means "hermit's stream".

[edit] The two parishes

Beckermet is split between two parishes: St. Bridget (2001 census population 385) to the south-east, and St. John (pop. 1925) to the north-west. Arguably, a third parish should be included, as the parish of Haile (to the north-east) extends to within a few metres of St. John's parish church, however this extension contains only fields. St. Bridget's parish includes most of the small village of Calder Bridge, and the hamlet of High Sellafield- along with about half of the nuclear plant. A large portion of the population of St. John's parish lives in the former mining community of Thornhill, near Egremont.

[edit] Churches

The runic cross stump in old St. Bridget's churchyard
The runic cross stump in old St. Bridget's churchyard

The current church of St. Bridget, built in 1842, is at Calder Bridge, but the old "Low Church" about 1km SW of the village (grid reference NY015061), a plain building of Norman origin with 13th century modifications, is still used occasionally. In the churchyard are the remains of two ancient crosses, one of which (see picture) has a runic inscription, of which several very contradictory translations have been made. The church of St. John, in the centre of the village, was rebuilt in 1878-9, but it too has fragments of ancient crosses, and many carved stone medieval coffin-lids. The ruined monastery of Calder Abbey is also within St. Bridget's civil parish.

[edit] Castle sites

St. John's parish also contains traces of two medieval castles, probably both residences of the le Fleming family, who were granted land in the area shortly after the Norman conquest of the area. The earlier, at Wodobank near Thornhill, had a defensive motte and possibly an adjoining bailey enclosure. A railway line, itself now abandoned, obliterated most of the remains. The outline of the later fortification, known as Caernarvon Castle, can still be traced in the fields north of the village (grid reference NY021073); it was abandoned about 1250 when the family moved to Coniston. Although Caernarvon was identified as a castle site by a later member of the family, 17th century historian Sir Daniel Fleming, some experts believe it was never inhabited, and that its alternative name "Coneygarth Cop" may indicate that it was a medieval rabbit warren.

[edit] External links

(Source: Wikipedia)
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