Bewcastle, Cumbria – St Cuthbert (again)

On Tuesday 9 January 2024 we had a hire car sitting on the drive – Bristol Street Motors in Hexham being unable to get the right part to repair ours and Motability having a duty to keep their disabled customer on the road (a duty they have failed to cover in the last four weeks as their “preferred supplier” Europcar just say “we haven’t got an automatic”). Sorry, rant over. Now we have a hire car, let’s get some miles on the clock.

As the sun sank slowly in the west we headed towards it, and ended up in the middle of nowhere – the lovely church of St Cuthbert, Bewcastle. I last visited it ten years ago and direct you to for a full blog. Last time I commented on the link to the village website – still working. Introductory letter from Bishop John Richardson thanking the community for raising £72,000 for urgent repairs – shame that the benefice letter attached to the church page is October’s.

To recap, Roman fort, then Norman castle, then castle rebuilt in stone. Yes, I will go and visit them properly (should I be making promises like this in my health??). Most stunning of all is the Bewcastle Cross – one of the finest to survive from Anglo Saxon Britain.

The page on the village website is excellent – – and has been updated since my las visit. Now with the addition of a 3D model. It probably dates from after 675 when Benedict Biscop brought masons from abroad (Rome and Syria) to work in building his new monastery at Monkwearmouth / Jarrow.

The displays in the outbuilding have not been updated in the last decade, but have stood the test of time. They tell the story from the hut circles of Neolithic times (4000-2000 BC), a six sided Roman fort constructed in AD 122, abandoned in 142 as the Empire extended north to the Antonine Wall, resettled about 20 years later as a real fort “on the edge of Empire”, last Roman occupants about 310. One board about a fascinating religious find. The story of the Castle, the church, the Reivers, the sheep, the military, and life in such a remote area. I love the mural by Kate Morris which stands on the end wall.

As I came out of the exhibition, the view of the Cross and the south side of the church was stupendous. It doesn’t really need any words.

I went into the church – this building dates to 1792 – and enjoyed the sun shining through. It was a bit cold and dark to do much of an explore, and there is a limit to how long I can leave Julie sat in the car. She did get out and came and had a look at the sunset and the cross, but we only had the manual wheelchair, so it was quite hard work. Rather annoyingly, the church had no card donation machine – surely worth having in this day and age – and I had no cash. I will have to come back to buy a mug!

I found myself singing “For all the saints”

The golden evening brightens in the west;

Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;

Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

As I commented on facebook “You wonder how many times the sun has set on the Bewcastle cross, and it puts daily moans and hospital appointments into perspective.”

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One Response to Bewcastle, Cumbria – St Cuthbert (again)

  1. Robert Forsythe says:

    Excellent account. We love going there. I am sure you will have been to Ruthwell? We must meet up again. We are living twixt Prudhoe and Castle Douglas after Clare’s marriage to David.

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