Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS)

The Solway Wetlands LPS is a 3 year project on the Solway Plain in North Cumbria, funded predominantly by Heritage Lottery Fund and focusing on the landscape heritage surrounding the peat bogs. The project area extends from Allonby to Wigton, up to Finglandrigg Wood, down to Orton Moss and up to the coast. It is a partnership project with the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (hosted by Allerdale Borough Council), Natural England, Environment Agency, RSPB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, West Cumbria Tourism, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust and the Diocese of Carlisle on the Steering Group. There are four programmes to the project. These are:

  1. Conserving and restoring the natural and built heritage – including restoring a barn for an education and visitor centre and mapping the medieval Solway
  2. Community Participation – including reintroduction of the marsh fritillary butterfly, a community fund for community led projects and creating more wetland sites
  3. Access and Learning – including an education programme, improved access and a look out tower.
  4. Training and Skills – including land management skills training, heritage skills and archaeological survey work.

Grampus is working with the LPS in carrying out the archaeological survey work programme, which was decided in the Development Phase to concentrate on the medieval period on the Solway Plain. The project builds upon previous community archaeology work carried by the West Cumbria Archaeological Society (WCAS) and Grampus Heritage at the Abbey.

The Cistercian monks established Holme Cultram Abbey in Abbeytown in 1150 and made a significant impact on the landscape by draining the marshes and making the landscape more financially viable. Following the Dissolution in 1538 Holme Cultram Abbey’s nave survives in the parish as St Mary’s Church.

Working with the LPS, Grampus aims to increase the understanding of the influence of the Cistercians on the Solway Plain landscape by researching the Abbey, industry, granges and chapels.

During the 3 year project, we will work with volunteers, carrying out research through:

  • Geophysical survey
  • Excavation
  • Walkover Survey
  • Archive research

Throughout the project we are seeking to engage new volunteers in the process of archaeological investigation and excavation. Have you ever fancied picking up a trowel and joining a real archaeological dig? Would you like to receive training in archaeological survey techniques and to help carry out geophysical or landscape surveys? Do you have an interest in history and have time to help with researching the old documents and references relating to the monastery? We actively encourage new people to join us, so if you are interested in any aspect of the project then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

For more information on the Solway Wetlands Project, including other ways to get involved, please visit their website.