Corpse Roads of Cumbria

corpse road book

The Corpse Roads of Cumbria

THESE ancient paths were once used by remote parishes to take their dead to the 'mother' church. They could be long and difficult tracks over the fells, the funeral procession only stopping at the occasional coffin rest or wayside cross to say a few prayers or sing a hymn. Towards the end of the 17th Century many parishes petitioned the Bishop to be allowed to bury the dead in their own village churchyard. The 'mother' church - which made good money from funerals and burials - was reluctant to give up its monopoly but the Bishop eventually gave in to the protests of those having to walk through rain and snow. Memories of the corpse roads remained however. That the corpse roads have remained this long - some 400 years after they were last used - is remarkable. Their survival has been helped by the firm belief - but in fact completely erroneous in law - that once a path was used to carry a corpse, it remains for ever a public highway.

This book details the routes of many of these surviving corpse roads and it also looks at the varied funeral customs and traditions found in Cumbria throughout the last two centuries. 

Routes include Wasdale, Eskdale, Ambleside, Grasmere, Chapel Stile, Loweswater, Irton, Workington, Camerton, St John's in the Vale, Keswick, Borrowdale, Mardale, Shap, Flookburgh, Cartmel, Garrigill, Kirkland, Greystoke, Wythop Mill, Brampton, Fenton, Hayton, Irthington and Beetham. But also includes mentions of many other corpse roads in the county.

The book is available on Amazon:
lamplugh coffin rest
The corpse cross at Lamplugh