Hello avid readers! As many of you may be aware, we students were visiting the Lake District of England this weekend. It is an absolutely astounding and beautiful place, but it is also filled with some incredible history! Here are three short history lessons about the Lake District and surrounding areas.
1. Gunpowder Mills in South Lakeland
This area was popular for gunpowder mills because of the abundance of running water as power to drive the machinery. Abundant in natural resources, the local area provided the necessary ingredients for making gunpowder, especially graphite. This also means that pencils were made locally and there is even a Pencil Museum nearby (although we didn’t visit that.) However, Alfred Nobel the creator of dynamite (and the more famous award and prize) bought out all of the gunpowder mills in order to store all his dynamite which was more effective than gunpowder. Many of the old mills have been converted into luxury hotels. While I couldn’t snap a picture in time, I thought this was an interesting fact our tour bus driver told us on Saturday.
2. Hardknott Fort
As you know from Garett’s post about his favourite memories of Saturday, we visited Hardknott Roman Fort where Holly gave us a wonderful history presentation about the fort. The fort was built under the rule of Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. An inscription from the south gate records the garrisons stationed at the fort, the Fourth Cohort of Dalmatians, which confirms the forts dating. It was interesting to see the history of another new fort especially after the last three weeks immersed primarily in Vindolanda’s history. Some of the class enjoyed a hike Sunday which included the remains of another fort in Ambleside, properly known as Galava Roman Fort. From the photos people shared, it mostly seems that just the minimal remains of the building foundations survive, but the fort was likely a supply base, built under the rule of Hadrian, and strategically placed at the head of Lake Windermere near the mouth of a river, and situated neatly between two large valleys.
3. Beatrix Potter Attraction.
Many of you may be familiar with The Tale of Peter Rabbit, other books and their author Beatrix Potter. On Sunday, Avery, Holly, and I took an excursion to check out the Beatrix Potter attraction. At the attraction we learned that much of the landscape of Beatrix’s stories were inspired by the Lake District. In many of her books, you can see depicted in drawing some of her favourite places of the area. With her publication earnings, she supported the efforts of the National Trust for “Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty.” Her goal was to protect these treasured locations for her, but also to protect the low lying valleys from commercialization and development. As someone who also shares the passion for animals and environment conservation as Beatrix, I was really touched to hear this story. The Beatrix Potter attraction is one of my most memorable moments of the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed it, thinking of my Mom back home in Canada who absolutely loves the stories of Peter Rabbit and other creatures.
Hopefully those of you reading from England know exactly the beauty and peace of the Lake District that pictures just cannot capture. For those of you reading from elsewhere in the world, I truly hope you consider adding a stop to the Lake District if you ever find yourself in England. I can promise you will not regret it.