Borrowdale Walkover Survey

Anecdotal evidence from members and recently analysed Lidar data suggested that there was likely to be some interesting prehistoric archaeology in the valley. A particular interest was in finding anything that might have been contemporaneous with the occupation of Borrowbridge Roman Fort.


LIDAR (DSM PCA) of the whole of Borrowdale

LIDAR (DSM PCA) of the whole of Borrowdale.


We commenced a walkover survey of the valley during the winter of 2016/17 while vegetation was low with a view to undertaking more detailed surveys of interesting features later on. With hindsight perhaps not the best plan – several days saw a few hardy souls battling the elements and quite a few were cancelled at short notice due to the weather.
One interesting discovery was an old 10ft-wide track, clearly rising from a ford via an engineered, surfaced section, before being blocked by an enclosure wall, in which a step-stile had been placed rather then a gateway. This track would seem to connect to the possible Roman Road heading up to Whinfell on the south side of the river and to continue northwards around the base of Jeffrey’s Mount. The track is certainly old and predates some of the enclosure walls.

Track rises from likely ford

Track continues up side of hill










We also found remains that might have once been a building on a levelled platform by the side of the track.
In total we logged 43 features of interest, ranging from a section of old orthostat wall and a large sheep wash to pre-enclosure trackways and a couple of piles of stones which could well be the remains of ancient buildings. We also added 5 charcoal pit steads on the north side of the valley to the existing list of over 20 identified by our member Andrew Wallis in Borrowdale Woods. A list of all our findings will be submitted to the LDNPA for their records.


Measuring section of orthostat wall

Measuring section of orthostat wall


Collapsed building or very large cairn?

Collapsed building or very large cairn?


Infilled gateway

Infilled gateway

There are three landowners in the Valley. High Borrowdale Farm is owned by the Friends of the Lake District, Low Borrowdale Farm by Holker Hall Estates and the fields at the south-eastern end of the valley belonged to the Wilsons of Low Borrowbridge Farm. Permission was granted by FOTL and the Wilsons, as well as a new owner to whom the Wilsons were in the process of selling their Borrowdale land. However, despite our significant efforts we were unable to gain permission from Holker Hall Estates to survey their property, which covers 70% of the surveyable land and contains the most likely prehistoric archaeological sites.
We have halted this survey for now to concentrate our limited resources on the other projects being undertaken by the Society.

Steve Douglas September 2017








Steve Douglas December 2016.

Steve will be advertising future Borrowdale sessions to members via email.

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