Our Cultural Heritage
Our cultural heritage is defined as the recognition of the unique identity of a place, which is drawn on experiences from:
The value of the landscape to the inhabitants is integral to any cultural heritage.
The message of the Secretary of State for Business, Lord Mandelson, for the Cumbrian economy, in February 2009 after a visit to the area, was clear:
“Your beauty will save you. It is an asset the region has to make the most of without spoiling”.
If this statement is to be fully implemented then preserving our own unique cultural heritage here at Kirksanton, in the parish of Whicham, is one of the key features in our argument as to why a new nuclear power station can not be built here.
Kirksanton is a place of hidden antiquity: megalithic standing stones, stone circles, ancient tracks, remnants of medieval and later agricultural enclosures; it is one of only four places in Cumbria mentioned in the Doomsday Book and well recorded in the manorial records of the Lordship of Millom.
It has escaped urban development and remains a place of breathtaking beauty, amazing wildlife, tranquillity, safety and sanctuary both for those who live here and people who visit.
There is well documented evidence that Kirksanton has been inhabited from Neolithic times when peaceful, stone circle building people dwelled in small groups near the coast. At one time there was a large concentration of megalithic remains in this small corner of what is now south Cumbria, including many stone circles. Most disappeared at the height of the 18th and 19th century agricultural revolution. Kirksanton’s are the last to remain intact on the coast.
Manorial and other records from the 12th century make numerous references to Kirksanton and the site of the Manor House is believed to be where Garthlands and Manor Farm exist now. The original Manor was burnt to the ground by the Scots in the 1300’s. At this time farming, fishing, as well as the peat and salt works were the main occupations. Salt works were located on low ground at Kirksanton using the existing track access to the sea.
In the 18th and 19th century agriculture continued to dominate the landscape as it does today.
Hemp was grown by the villagers for making rope to kit out the vast fleet of tall ships trading out of Whitehaven harbour to the West Indies. Farming and brewing were the life of the village.
Today, little has changed for the rural hinterland of the Millom area. Farming still dominates, supplemented by tourism for those seeking simplicity and quiet. Horticulture, residential care and the increase in smallholdings have further added to the rural economy.
This landscape, set against the dramatic backdrop of Black Combe has inspired some of our country’s most acclaimed poets and writers: Wordsworth, Norman Nicholson, and Alfred Wainwright, so enriching our local heritage.
- Documented evidence of earliest settlements at Kirksanton in the New Stone Age as mountains and upland regions were uninhabitable.
- Subsequent settlements developed on the site through the Middle Ages, to the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Little 20th century development of Kirksanton area as properties and land were still held under the ownership of the Brockbank/Wilson estate.
- Farming over the centuries has shaped the landscape as it still does today.
- The proposed new nuclear build site includes the only access track for the village to the sea; an ancient track utilized by previous settlers from Neolithic times, through the Middle Ages to the present day.
- This landscape has influenced local artists who have become part of our heritage at local, national and international levels.
Local Communities, Cultural Heritage and Rural Strategies
Why is this important in the argument for NO NUCLEAR NEW BUILD at Kirksanton?
Under laws laid down by the Council for Europe, governments are requested to accept the need for long-term stewardship of each country’s heritage, landscape and culture, whilst recognising the major issues facing society today.
The underlying principles are:
- Quality of rural life which is both dynamic and sustainable, reflecting the environment and the heritage of an area.
- Recognition of the subtle variations in different geographical areas whatever their scale.
- Development of public policy led by the views, wishes, resources and energies of local people, who have the best knowledge. Linking these views to those of governments at all levels.
Kirksanton is a rural area. Imposing criteria for urban economic development and the related infrastructure changes which a new nuclear power station would bring, does not protect our cultural heritage or reflect this community’s values.