The History Of Heysham
Heysham lies on the North West coast of England . A long narrow strip of land on the seaward of the peninsular between the River Lune - Morecambe Bay, stretching from Middleton Sands in the S, to the Battery Point in the N, 3 miles as the crow flies.
At the S extremety is a point formed of New Red Sandstone Rocks called "Red Nab". North of this Heysham Harbour,but before the harbour was made there was a cliff of Boulder Clay rather less than 100ft high, and 2 rocky points Far Naze and Near Naze of millstone grit now incorporated in the Harbour. The SE point of Walney Island is true W of Heysham Head. This line marks the boundary of the inner part of Morecambe Bay most of which ebbs dry at the low water of Spring Tides. North of the harbour is Half Moon Bay, then Heysham Head and Heysham Point, these forming a promontory about 130ft in height of millstone grit and sandstone. A cliff of Boulder Clay has now been formed into the Sunshine Slopes of Cross Cop. These cliffs of Boulder Clay have been much eroded during the last 100years. The large and small boulders on the beach are what is left after the Red marl has been washed away. One or two interesting ones have been left on the Sunshine Slopes. The boulder clay represents ridges of derritos or moraines left by glaciers during the Ice Age. Hence the contained boulder are round having been ground, the ridges themselves showing the direction of the glacier movement, whilst the boulders are Limestone, Bluestone, and Granite, the last having travelled from Shap. The road from Morecambe to Heysham runs between 2 smaller ridges of Boulder Clay. On the very top of these ridges is seen the curious phenomena of srprings of water breaking out. These are not the usual surface water, but having come from deep sources owing to the terrific strain on the underlying strata, they make good though hard drinking water, and never dry up even in drought.
The New Red Sandstone, hardening as it does with time and exposure, makes good building stone. St Johns Church was built of this in 1900.
Flint is not found in this district and so the axes and hammers of the Stone Age were made of Bluestone.
Heysham Lake represents a prehistoric valley now submerged. It extends from Heysham Skeers, past the Harbour, between Middleton Sands and Clarks Wharf down into the Lune Deeps. Peat, Bog, Oak and the horns of prehistoric Red Deer are sometimes dredged up by fishermen, especially just S of the Harbour.
Heysham Moss represents the remnants of a Morass which extended along the right bank of the Lune from Skerton to Overton. It was impassable to strangers up to recent times. Peat is still cut there. As a fuel it is little used, but it possesses the remarkable property of having a wavelength very different to that of a gas or electric fire, so that the heat penetrates right through the human body, warming the back as well as the front.
Stone Age Man
No evidence of Pheolithic (Old Stone Age Man) is found in this district. Then weapons were not ground or polished, but were shaped by chipping only.
Neolithic or New Stone Age Man were about five and a half feet in height. They made weapons from Bluestone, teeth and horns, binding them to wooden shafts with green hide. There are stone axe and hammer heads from the district in Lancaster Museum of great size and weight, one of these weighing eight and threequarter pounds. This New Stone Age lasted thousands of years, and relics show that 2 disticnt races of men must have been in this district, first the long headed men, these being followed by men with a much rounder type of skull. Some of the burial places for their chief men called Barrows are intact at Heysham. The ancient race used the Long Barrows :- one is in the allotments just to the North of Heysham School, and stretches like a whale with its nose to the Pole Star right up to Crimewell Lane opposite Mount Zion House. The only way to get to it lies through the garden behind the fish shop.
In Heysham as opposed to other similar relics in various parts of the country, these long Barrows have been formed by the action of Glaciers during the Ice Age, coming up against an outcrop of rock, thus forming a piled up mound of detritus; this would account for the barrows being in a North - South lie. In the case of all other glacial ridges in the district, a section reveals stones of different types embedded in a matrix of Red Marl, all the stones being rounded by the grinding of the moving glacier: moreover , in these ridges are cavities and pits where the Marl has been easily dug out for agricultural uses. But in these Heysham Barrows are large areas formed of packed stones of comparatively soft material (grit) the edges of which are still sharp and the chinks between, not filled up with clay. Another point of evidence is that rabbits have never been able to use these Barrows as warrens, although all other glacial ridges are freely used as such. In the absence of any section right through the centre of these Barrows it is still problematical as to their period and use. On Salisbury Plain, Long Barrows were the sepulchres of Early Neolithic men with long skulls; Round Barrows contain the relics of Late Neolithic Men who had a more rounded skull, and who existed right into the Bronze Age when pottery was used and cremation practised. In Scotland, however, and further North, Barrows were used by Noresmen, who in a later age gave a much more elaborate internment. Until a Barrow is carefully examined, it is impossible to guess what it might to contain: indeed, it might have been rifled long ago, and carefully filled in again. There is no tradition to that effect in the case of the Heysham Barrows.
There is small round Barrow in Heysham Hall grounds, close to Smithy Lane with the end of the little footbridge resting on it, whilst there is a perfect Long Barrow down in the field below, with a summer house built on the top of it. We do not know of any writing or sculpture by these men. The first tribes of so called "Early Britons" were of race known as Goidel speaking a language something like Gaelic. They suffered the same fate as the more primitive men, being forced further North and West by a race of Celts speaking something like Welsh.
Heysham had now reached historic times, and quite a high stage of civilisation. They could temper Copper and put an edge on it, they could weave and dye cloth. They sowed corn, made baskets and boats from osiers. They studied astronomy and had Druids for Priests and Bards. Later they made iron and steel implements, but these have rusted away, however beutiful Bronze weapons from this district are now in Lancaster Museum.
They reached the Heysham district about AD 80, but the Celts of the district gave them an exciting time, that they had not lacked armour and constant military drill, a different history might have been the result. The Romans wrote home asking for more troops, whilst the chariots and sythes frequently struck confusion into the finest fighting force the world had seen. The Romans never really conquered the N. W. of Britain; at the most there was an armed neutrality where they made settlements, they married the Celtic women whilst the more war like Celts retreated into the mountains.
The Roman Occupation
The Romans occupied and fortified Lancaster and in AD 86 under Julies Agricola had reached as far N.W. in Britain as they ever accomplished before withdrawing from the country. The relics to be found in Heysham of the Roman Occupation are very few indeed, but Roman Galleys must frequently have been sailed or rowed roind Heysham Point , because the Romans had a dock which can still be seen one mile North of Carnforth just before the turning to Borwick . Morecambe Bay was much shallower then, but the channels were deeper. In 1820 there was a pier at Hest Bank and regular sailings from there to Liverpool and Glasgow. By ships and early steam vessels. The Roman Galleys would pass up and down Heysham Lake because they were of light draught and in those days Heysham Skeers were islands with trees on them and deep channels between, so there was not the same risk in navigation there is nowadays. We learn from Roman writings that the Britons living in Heysham in that day were Celts of the tribe called Segantii of the race known as Brigantes. They worshipped the Sun, their priests were Druids and their doctrine included Transmigration of Sauls. The Stone Circles were there meeting places. The nearest circle to Heysham is close to the source of the River Keer, but some of it has been used to form gate posts. Relics are the hollow Stone Quern and the primitive hand millstone. Two of these are used as plant pots at the top of the steps close to the Weeping Willow in the old Rectory Gardens. It is difficult to assign a date to any stone.
The Celts were wonderful weavers of oslers. They could make a basket to hold in a prisoner. The Romans used the Fishing Baulks on the Skeers (these names would not then be in use, because "Baulk" is Anglo-Saxon, and Skeer is Norse). The Baulks would be woven originally by the Celts in osiers but Hazel is used mainly today. They are long V shaped fences of basketwork with the apex of the V in about 7ft of water, whilst the ends of the arms are just ebbing dry. Thus they arranged on shelving beach. Any fish trapped on the ebb tide within the arms goes through a narrow opening in the V and finds itself in a roomy chamber made entirely of netting. Even today a well kept Baulk is the most ingenious device ever invented for providing a constant supply of fresh fish, whatever the weather. Properly kept it can catch any size of fish and any qauntity, but few are used today as it is hard trying work, twice daily. Other relics of the Celts in Heysham are the home made basket for fish and mussels called a Teanel, still made there and used regularly, and a bottle shaped Eel trap made of woven osiers. The Celts also used basket made boats called Coracles.
In AD 410 the Romans were finally leaving the district, of course many Romans - Celts having inter married. The tragic results for the Celts was that the Romans having done all the fighting for them, they were now helpless. The Picts, a terrible race of cave men who lived in stone houses and were only kept in check beyond the Roman Wall , soon found this out. Also Angles from the South of Jutland raided the NE coast, and during the next 50 years had burned and blasted their way right through the country and by AD 600 under Arthel frith, had over run the district. Probably the Celts welcomed the Angles in order to keep away the Picts, preffering the lesser evil. The fact remains that the Heysham district now became Anglian whilst the few remaining Celts lived in harmony and with them.
For many years before the Romans came, the Phoenicians had been sailing to this country trading fine purple cloth and silver ware for Tin. These, the most wonderful navigators who ever lived, made summer voyages from Tyre and charted the whole west coast of Europe right up to Norway. Besides being the greatest navigators they were also the greatest builders. As a matter of history, they built King Solomons temple and as a matter of conjecture, they probably landed on Heysham Head. It was from reports about the visits of the Phoenicians that determined Julies Caesar to see for himself. The Phoenicians taught the Norsemen how to make their long ships and sail and navigate them. Their seamanship was similar except that the Norsemen apparently never were taught to use charts, but just relied on their inborn skill of pilotage. When the Phoenicians ceased to come, being wholly occupied in waging war with the Romans, the Irish Sea was left as a Viking main with the Isle of Man as a base.
By AD 800, some Vikings had settled in Heysham, and at the close of the C9, Heysham was inhabited by Angles with Norsemen living close to the sea, the sprinkling of Celts being absorbed into both dominant races. The Norsemen had an inherent habit of keeping very much to themselves. Norse words:- (skeer; rough ground) (craam; rake) (vaap ; rope ). We must now go back nearly 500 years to note the introduction of Christianity to Heysham. There were christian Romans at Lancaster, but there is no evidence of any at Heysham which was a long way from Lancaster in these times.
Christianity in Heysham
Evidence is too abundant for there to be any doubt that St Patrick was the first to preach the gospel in Heysham. St Patrick was a Roman, the son of a Roman and grandson of a christian preacher. He was born about AD 385 at a Roman station now called Kilpatrick near Dumbarton. When aged 15, his family was raided by the Picts, his parents killed and he himself carried off as a slave. We know that the Picts lived in wonderful stone houses, which, in many cases show much of their structure today, so that we may safely assume that the Saint, whilst a slave, learned much about the construction of stone buildings. Again, being a Roman, he would know much about Lancaster, if only by hearsay, and about Carnforth Dock, and the isolated spot now called Heysham. The Picts sold their slave to an Irish Chief, when aged 21, Patrick escaped. Tradition says he spent 60 years after this converting heathen, baptising, consecrating and ordaining and building small churches. During this time he went to Gael and Rome.Unless he had actually written a diary,it is obvious that the recorded events of his life by other people must be considerably confused,but it does seem fair to assume that he must have been athletic and energetic, and one who had seen more than most men. Some accounts state that he passed through Heysham on his escape; this may be so, and may account for his choosing Heysham for a mission.There are too many place - names around Heysham, to doubt that he was there in person. The anniversary of his death at Saul,near Downpatrick about AD 461 on March 17th has been kept throughout the ages as the principle festival at Heysham. There is a long string of these place names between Heysham & Dumbarton, beginning at St Patricks Well, Slyne. He is reputed to have blessed this well, saying it would never fail, and this has proved true even in the worst droughts (Ingleboro) The saint used the water to baptize converts. It seems certain that the saint returned from the continent as a Bishop and landed in Ireland about AD 439, aged 50. If another few years are added, the date of the Chapel at Heysham can be assumed to be about 445 AD. Apparently he stopped at the Isle of Man on his way; and in Anglesey a church is reputed to have been built by him about AD 440. Why not ? Patrick would then be at the height of his mental vigour and endurance. Why did he come to Heysham ? Because he knew that the Romans had left the country and soon there would be no Christians left in the Strathclyde (area from Mersey to Clyde) he preached therefore to the Celts of Strathclyde.
Tradition says that St Patrick was wrecked on St Patricks Skeer. This is simply a confusion of places, because in those days, that skeer was an island with trees on it, and good anchorage. No doubt the Saint landed on it for the preliminaries of his mission. Today, tree - roots can be found on most of the Heysham Skeers St Patricks Skeer is now a long narrow strip of rough ground in Heysham Lake with deep water on each side, and is only visible at Low Water Spring Tides. It is off Heysham Point and there is a long wall running seawards on Heysham Head which is used to find it. Having begun his mission his mission, Patrick chose the very place where in all probability - some Phoenician had stood, one who might have assisted in the building of King Solomans Temple; where the loftiest ideas of great architecture might have been discussed, St Patrick began again at the bottom of the ladder . Naturally the Celts or Romanised Celts would help him. What style can the little chapel be called ? It could only have been St Patricks own style. To call it Saxon is a confusion of terms. There never were any Saxons in Heysham. There were the pure Angles and none but Celts in Heysham, then. The date of the foundation of Christianity in Ireland can be fixed to a few years by the traditional account that Joseph of Arimathea took the most sacred relics there. Thus St Patrick built his little chapel about 444AD which was 150 years before St Augustine landed in Kent and the little chapel must thus be 1500 years old. The final withdrawal of the Romans was AD 410.
As regards Heysham :- there was now a Christian nucleus of Celts, soon to be surrounded by successive hordes of blood thirsty heathens. When the Angles 600 AD reached Heysham, they had a God for each day. As regards their being a dominant race, the next 500 years proved that they held their own better than any other invading race.
In AD 607 or 613, the Angles at the Battle of Chester split the Celts into 2 portions, and drove them from Morecambe Bay area to the Lake District and Wales. The little church at Heysham must then have been left forlorn and Christianity blotted out. It seems hardly credible that it stood intact after the Battle of Chester; it is likely that the first Angles destroyed it, but there do not seem to be any marks of fire on it. About this time a Roman writer supposed Britain to be the abode of "Souls of the Dead"; certainly the Christian Celts of the Lake District , Wales and Ireland were quite cut off from the rule of the Bishop of Rome. The result was that Christian Teaching began afresh in the South of England in AD 597: in AD 655 after the Battle of Winwidfield, the Christian Celts of the Lake District and Wales began to convert the North of England, afresh. These Celts were a combined new race composed of Goidals and Brythons and called themselves Cymri (comrades). The Synod of Whitby was held in AD 664, and in AD 827 Egbert was King of Wessex and overlord of the North of England. Throughout all this time, Heysham was Anglian. Apparently, the Saxons and Jutes never came to it.
The real invasion of the Vikings when they finally came to to conquer and settle here began about AD 787 and although in general they were outnumbered they fought so fiercely that the English were glad to make terms with them. Names ending in -by -thorpe -thwaite show where they settled. Evidently the Celts finally converted these to Christianity. About AD 800 the Norsemen in Morecambe Bay District had become Christianised, but the struggle for power did not end. The chiefs Scotland, Wales, and Cumberland allied together - Cymri and Norsemen, but were defeated by the son of Alfred the Great, named Edward the Elder, and when he died Ad 925 the Cymri revolted again when his son Athelston was made King. There was a terrrible battle at Brunaberh and the Cymri and Norsemen were defeated by Athelstan. This battle must have been somewhere around Heysham, as it was the centre of the gathering.
The Angles in Heysham
The battle of Chester AD 631 had great significance for Heysham. The Angles settled there immediately afterwards, and doubtless their system of society and government would be at once established, and all the other inhabitants would be set to work as slaves. The days of the week were given, Sunday and Monday named after the Sun and the Moon (Anglo -Saxon Sunnan Daeg and Monan Daeg) Tuesday - Tiwes Daeg after Tiw the god of War. Wednesday was Wodenes Daeg, the day of Woden or Odin the chief daiety and from whom they believed their kings to be descended from (divine right of kings idea) .Thursday Thunres Daeg, Thor, God of Thunder, Friday - Frige Daeg, wife of Odin, Saturday - Saeter Daeg - dedicated to Saturn.
The unit of society was the Freemen or Free Necked Men, who bowed the head to none. His arms were a spear and a Sword, with which if need be, he had to take his place at once in the fighting line. He was first and foremost a skilled soldier, and secondly a settler. Together with all the members of his family, he lived in a Ham or little township and the head of the Hess family, gave the name to Heysham (Hessam). Each little township was presided over by the Town Reeve, who summoned the Freemen to the Town Mote. One hundred such townships made the hundred of Lonsdale. Each hundred was presided over by 100 elder, and a group of hundreds made a Shire presided over by the Eldermen who had the help of the Kings representative, the Shire Reeve. A group of Shires made the kingdom governed by the King at his Witena Gernot. This was composed of the King, Princes, Eldermen, Shire Reeves and Bishops; also the Thegus who were members whilst acting as honorary servants to any of the above. Thus it was easy for the King to muster his Army. There were 7 Kings in the Anglo - Saxon Heptarcy it was not surprising that the whole country was devasted by warfare. Shortly before the Norman Conquest, Heysham was governed by the Earl of Northumberland named Tostig, who lived at Halton. He was expelled from Northumbria in 1065 and 3 days before William landed from Normandy in 1066 Tostig was slain in the Battle of Stomford Bridge, which was won by his brother Harold.
For nearly 500 years , Heysham had been under this system of government, when things were altered by the defeat of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Just as the Celts had called on the Angles for help against the Picts, so now the Angles in Northumbria called on the Danes for help against the Normans, and together might well have kept the Normans out of the North of England. William the Conqueror ,however, seemed never at a loss for ideas. In 1069 he marched to York and bought off the Danes, thus making the task easier of thoroughly ravaging the district, which in 1072 was portioned off to his brother - pirates ; the domain which had been under Tostig fell to the lot of Roger of Poitou, the son of Montgomery. This Lietenant robber was not satisfied , and trying to gain still more, lost all , in 1101.
In Stephens reign (1135 - 1154) the district became Crown Land, but in 1200 (Johns reign) . Heysham belonged to Adam Gernet or Adam Hessayne or Hessam. He was the son of Sir Brian de Hessam. The word was spelt in a variety of ways after the compilation of the Domesday Book; but for at least 150 years it has been pronounced Hee-sham. In 1210, a baron Dacre came back from the crusades and brought a sapling of the " Cedars of Lebanon". He planted it at his house in Higher Heysham, "The Grange", the remnants of which can be seen at the top of the lane going up to the Heath.
Sir Brian and his son,Adam de Hessam occupied the Manor House at Heysham Head; it was built mainly of wood with a thatched roof, partially surrounded by a moat crossed by a drawbridge. Adam met a violent death in 1210, and his son Thomas Gernet held the manor until 1221. His grandson held it until 1246. Roger, the son of Vivian, sold the manor to Randal de Dacre and he with Joan his wife held it from 1290 - 1297, when Joan the widow, held it in her own right, together with Bare and Over Kellet. Edmund de Dacre owned it in 1309 and his son Thomas in 1356. This is an interesting date from the fact that the Battle of Poitiers (Black Prince) was marked by the brilliant shooting of the English Archers, whilst the factory in Heysham was famed for the excellence of its bows and arrows marked "Grange" (Gradwell).
His grandson , Thomas de Dacre died in 1419 and left a daughter Elizabeth who carried the Manor to Sir Thomas Harrington, whence it came into the possesion of the Lords Monteagle.
In 1513, Sir Edward Stanley lived at Hornby Castle, with his vassals, which included the Lonsdale Archers, commanded the Left wing at the Battle of Flodden Field. The Lonsdale Archers carried the day, this was the Stanley of Sectts "Marmion", who fell on the field shouting "On Stanley, on ". For his services that day, Sir Edward Stanley was created Lord Monteagle, whose badge was an Eagles claw, and motto Glav,et Gant. He died in 1524. His great- grandaughter Elizabeth married Lord Morley. Their son William Thomas Parker sold Heysham Manor in 1587. It was he, who in 1605, received the mysterious letter which led to the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. For this service, King James created him 4th Lord Monteagle. Thus, Heysham has a link with the Gunpowder Plot.
In 1587, Parker sold Heysham Manor to John Bradley of Thornley, whose daughter carried the Manor to the Leyburnes. In 1715, for taking part in the Jacobite Rebellion, the Leyburnes lost Heysham Manor by forfeit, and the Corporation of Lancaster bought it and sold it again in 1766 for £672. In 1836, Heysham Manor was held by 12 proprietors in 16 shares, and before 1914, there were 11 proprietors with 19 shares.
Going back to 1588, - one of the ships of the defeated Spanish Armada , which had been chased right round the North of Scotland, was trying to return through the Irish Sea, but was wrecked in the Bay. Brass cannon and rusted iron cannon have been seen from time to time on the site of the wreck, and some have been weighed and brought to Morecambe, where they were in the "Kings Arms Hotel". Some of the complement from this ship - name unknown - settled in Heysham. A spanish gentlemen in 1914 commented on the fact that some of the surnames, here, were in Spanish.