Step Back into History
…and discover ancient burial sites, picturesque churches and traditional routes where thousands of feet have trodden before.
…buildings that were once theatres and cinemas, and now welcome visitors to their shops and restaurants.
…hotels and offices that ring with today’s industry, but are still true to the time in which they were built.
Morecambe Bay looks to the future but celebrates its past as an entertainment resort and a centre of maritime importance.
BIRKRIGG COMMON STONE CIRCLE
Transport yourself back to the Bronze Age by discovering this stone circle which sits captivatingly on a hillside. This place overlooks the village of Bardsea and Ulverston and has fine views out towards Morecambe Bay.
This 3000 year-old stone circle is known as the ‘Druid’s Circle’ and it is thought to have been the site of ritual and funereal ceremonies.
Although a small circle, its air of mystery remains and this blustery site has a magical charm all of its own.
PIEL ISLAND AND CASTLE
Piel Island is accessible only via a small boat ferry. The island houses a 14th century fortress (part of which is still standing) which was built by the Abbot of Furness to guard Barrow-in-Furness against pirates and Scots raiders. Lambert Simnel, pretender to Henry VII’s throne, landed here in 1487.
In the 17th century, Piel’s shipping and salt industries thrived, and in the 18th century Piel became important due to its collection of customs – seizing significant amounts of illegally imported alcohol.
Until 1874 the ownership of the island was divided between the Duke of Buccleuch who owned the castle and the Ship Inn, and a Mr C W Archibald who owned the rest. The entire island was given over to the town of Barrow-in-Furness in 1920 as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the First World War.
The Ship Inn on the island dates from the late 18th century. The landlord has traditionally been known as known as ‘The King of Piel’, a title originating from the time of Lambert Simnel and his attempt to usurp the English throne. The most recent ‘King’ was crowned in 2008 – by having a bucket of beer poured over his head!
Local legend says that St Patrick established a place of worship here after being shipwrecked off the coast in the 5th century, but the remains of St Patrick’s Chapel, with its curved Anglo Saxon doorway, that we can see today are thought to be part of a building which dates from the 8th century.
Around St Patrick’s Chapel are eight graves, cut into the rock of the headland. Although they are body shaped, they are thought to have contained disarticulated bones of high-status individuals, rather than whole bodies, with the top socket being used to house wooden crosses.
The National Trust’s Heysham Coast site is a place of maritime heritage and spiritual importance – to find out more, download the Heysham Head app to reveal its secrets, stories and histories: Download the app and plan your own walking tour to discover this area.
MORECAMBE’S ART DECO AND ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE
Fancy a walk? Download our Morecambe Heritage Trail guide and take this self-guided walk through the streets of Morecambe, discovering its heritage buildings, its Art Deco legacy, and the places which made it renowned as one of the entertainment capitals of the country!
From banks to clocktowers, shops to hotels, Morecambe’s buildings have secrets to tell about its illustrious past.