Historical Connections

Grasmere and the Lake District has a wealth of history and culture. Much of the Lake District landscape was formed by volcanoes about 450 million years ago, and the mountain rock is called "Borrowdale Volcanic". The eruption that created the mountains around Grasmere is the largest volcanic event ever to take place on our planet! The mountains near Keswick in the North of the Lake District are even older and were formed by rising sea-beds. This northern rock is called "Skiddaw Slate"

The Lake District mountains are amongst the oldest in Europe and were once as high as the Himalayas are today! The mountains we know and admire now have been shaped by ancient glaciers and millions of years of weather! Stone slate has been extracted from the Lake District since Neolithic times, about 5,500 to 3,500 BC when, arrow & axe heads were exported from Langdale to the rest of the UK and even continental Europe! Axe heads were prized & valued possessions - highly polished and expertly "manufactured".

2000 years ago the Romans were in the Lake District, extracting metals and minerals and keeping the Brigantes tribe under control! There were Roman settlements at Ambleside (4 miles from Grasmere), Ravenglass and along Hadrian's wall. There are remains of a Roman fort at Hardknott, and the summit of a mountain called High Street was a Roman Road connecting two Roman forts at Brougham Castle (near Penrith) and Ambleside (Galava).

Dunmail Raise, the road heading north from Grasmere, is named after the last Celtic King of Cumbria who was defeated in battle here by the Anglo Saxons in 945AD. It is said that his crown was thrown into Grisedale Tarn at the end of the battle.

The Lake District has very few place names from the Anglo Saxon language - it would seem that the invading English (and the Normans after them) left the place in the hands of the Ancient British and later the Norse settlers. Old Norse being the first language of Lakeland well into the 13th century. Over a thousand years ago Norsemen settled in Cumbria and many of the place names reflect this today. The river which flows past the hotel is the "Rothay" which is Old Norse for "Trout River". The word "gill" (as in Sour Milk Gill) means a ravine pool below a waterfall, and place names ending in "thwaite" refer to a clearing or settlement.

Most of the dry stone walls that form the boundaries of fields on the hills here, date from around 200 years ago, but some have much earlier origins. The shepherd monks from Conishead kept sheep in the Grasmere valley in the 12th & 13th Centuries.

Sour milk Gill was the site of a fulling mill - used in the preparation of wool, which was a major feature of the Lake District economy. Some historians think that the name "Grasmere" derives from "griss" - Old Norse for "pig" because of the ancient practice of herding swine in the valley. Others say that Grasmere simply means "grassy lake" because, for much of the year, it is surrounded by "grise" - lush green vegetation. Spreading "gris" or green rushes on the Church floor is an ancient practice preserved today in Grasmere's annual Rushbearing Ceremony. Bridge House Hotel Grasmere is surrounded by the Lake District's wealth of historical interest and numerous cultural and literary connections... ...and right on our own doorstep there is some of the finest scenery in the world.

Come and share it with us.

Bridge House Hotel in 1952