History of Rosley Cumbria

The first known written record of Rosley was in 1272 in a legal document known as Pleas of the Forest, the spelling was ROSSELEYE.

What does Rosley mean? - There are two theories, both are attractive and neither can be conclusively established. The Celtic interpretation is that the name is a conjunction of Rhos, meaning moor and le, indicating a place: hence a place on the moor. A more recent and commonly given meaning is an amalgamation of the Scandinavian word for horse, Hross, and the old English for clearing, leah: thus we get a clearing where horses are kept. Rosley has long been associated with horse fairs which adds credence to this, probably the preferred option. However we shall never know whether Rosley became a permanent settlement around the site of the Horse Fair or whether the Fair developed because Rosley was already there: it was certainly a good stopping point on drovers' trails. Perhaps the true explanation is something quite other. CLICK HERE to read more about Rosley Fair.


Wheatsheaf Pub Top Rosley

History - The first people to inhabit the area, possibly as early as 4000B.C., eked out their existence by hunting, fishing and gathering wild fruit and nuts. They were displaced by the Gaels, a Celtic race from mainland Europe, who were in turn displaced by another Celtic race, the Ancient Britons. Settlements gradually developed with small plots of enclosed land. Evidence of such a settlement has been found on the ridge near Sandy Brow. The Romans were the next to arrive. They occupied Carlisle and had a large fort and settlement at Old Carlisle near Wigton:the road to the west coast forts at Maryport and beyond passed through this area. The A595 near Jenkin?s Cross is marked on the O.S. maps as ?Roman Road?. Shawk Quarries, near Curthwaite, were worked by the Romans. Stone from the quarries was used in building the walls of Carlisle many years later. Evidence of civilian settlement during Roman times have been found at Mockrigg and The Heights.


Coulthards Farm Chalkside

The 350 years of Roman occupation were relatively stable times. These were followed by six centuries of continual raids and conflict between Britons, Scots and Saxons. The Normans arrived in Cumberland in 1092 and the land was divided into large baronial estates. The manor (which is now Westward) was forest ground in Allerdale and it was given by Alan, second lord of Allerdale to Henry II who annexed it to his Royal Forest of Inglewood, as it formed the western ward of the forest it received the name Westward. It continued to be held by the Crown until 1344 when Edward II granted it to Thomas Lucy on his marriage to the King?s cousin. It subsequently passed to the Earls of Northumberland (the Percy family) and descended through to the Earls of Egremont. The centuries following the Norman Conquest were marked by frequent border raids and wars as successive Scots and English kings laid claim to the border lands. It was not until after the Jacobite rebellion was finally put down in th e late 18th century that times became more settled. Before the Enclosure Acts of the early 1800?s there were only small areas of enclosed land around the settlements at Rosley, Curthwaite, Brackenthwaite, Craggs, Woodside and the Heights, the rest was open common land with tracks between settlements. The Enclosure Acts completely changed the look of the landscape to the layout of the fields much as we see them today.

The Second World War Comes to Rosley - Rosley, had a satellite landing ground at Wath Head. There was grass landing strip which was created by the removal of hedges and the land of the fields being compacted with the aid of three steam rollers pulled up and down by a caterpillar tractor. As the land continued to be used sheep had to be removed from the landing strip before a plane could land. Once the planes had safely landed they were towed into Spain wood, so called because its shape resembles a map of Spain, and covered in camouflage nets so that they would not easily be seen. The strong wires holding these nets could still be seen some forty years after the last plane had been hidden in the wood. The huts built at the time were designed to look, to the casual observer, like cottages in the countryside. Their remains can still be seen today (July 2019).

Wath Head