Frequently Asked Questions
the difference between Ireleth and Kirkby Ireleth?
If you're looking for information on Ireleth and type 'Ireleth' into
an Internet directory or search engine, chances are you'll come up
with lots of information on 'Kirkby Ireleth'. What's the difference?
Kirkby Ireleth is a parish, but is not the parish in which
Ireleth and Askam lie. We were part of Dalton parish until, in the
19C, the formation of the parish of Ireleth-with-Askam. We were officially
recorded as 'Above Town'; this was an administrative area that included
Marton and parts of Lindal, and which roughly equates to the modern
voting ward of Dalton (North).
Kirkby Ireleth parish is centred on
St Cuthbert's Church at Kirkby-in-Furness and
extends north and north-west towards Seathwaite. The name Kirkby
is not uncommon and so (like the many Broughtons) it adopted the
additional name of a larger nearby centre (Ireleth) to distinguish
it from, say, Kirkby Lonsdale. (Note: the Kirkbys were an important
family in that
of the modern village of Kirkby did not exist until relatively recently.
Rather, it was a group of hamlets — Sandside, Beck Side, Marsh Side
etc. — huddled around Kirkby Hall.)
Thus, all of Ireleth's earliest records are categorised with those
of Dalton until 1874. Marriages, funerals, baptisms and the like
always carried out in Dalton, though some of these are recorded
at St Cuthbert's. These may, however, be Kirkby people who'd moved
to Ireleth, yet who returned to their home parish for these significant
What do the names
Ireleth and Askam actually mean?
Arthur Evans believed that the name Ireleth was of
Norse origin. The Norsemen who came to Furness were not the coastal
so famous in history books, but came from the Isle of Man. A group
of Norsemen had settled there and attempted to establish a breakaway
kingdom, independent of King Harald of Norway, in 895. Harald sent
out a punitive party, and so many of these rebels fled
to the Furness coast. Arthur Evans,
in the Evening Mail, wrote:
"Ire" is considered to be a personal
name of a Norseman who came over to Furness from Ireland
during the time of the Norse or Viking
invasion of this part of the country.
and Hobbs had earlier offered the name as meaning "hillslope
of the Irishmen". This was repeated in Oxford University
Press's A Dictionary of English Place-Names, thus:
His craft would come up the Duddon Estuary and he would land
in the marsh. Very soon he would make his way further inland
of the hill, where he would make his home. "Leth" is Norse
for a "Slope" and as his home was on the slope of the hill,
it was called "Ireleth".
Irlid 1190 'Hill-slope of the Irishmen'. Old Scandinavian Irar
of the name Askam (occasionally written 'Askham' and
'Eskam' in early documents)
was also examined Melville and Hobbs. They offered a
Norse connection, too, in the Old Norse name 'Aski' with the element
(enclosure) or 'holmr' (low land liable to innundation by
flooding). They wrote that:
the name of one of the common fields of Ireleth in 1776. The
name ASKam appears first in records about the time of the dissolution.'
Is Ireleth really
in the Domesday Book?
Barnes, Walton and other local historians wrote that Ireleth's
recorded history began in 1086 with the Domesday Book. This became
the accepted wisdom, simply through being repeated often enough.
There is indeed a place name 'Gerleuuorde' (part of the manor
known in pre-invasion times as Hougun) which was attributed to
the place we know as Ireleth. However, it sounds very little like 'Ireleth' in
any of its current or earlier forms, and its association with Hougun
does not necessarily mean that it is Ireleth.
It is also important to remember that Furness was effectively
under Scottish control in 1092
and the whole area was at the north-western-most tip of Domesday's
coverage. Although the area traditionally looked south-eastwards
for its administration (even when under Scots control) it was still
in an area which may have provided less than reliable returns data.
When was the ironworks chimney knocked down?
The following report is from the North Western
Daily Mail of
Monday 12 February 1934:
chimney fell at 3.40pm on Sunday. It was unexpected and the
prediction had been confidently made only an hour or so before
that it would not collapse until today.
Since Tuesday half a dozen men have been cutting the bricks
at first one of its eight corners and then another. That was
how it was done — with hammer and chisel. There was no blasting,
no underpinning and firing. It is the first time a chimney
of such tremendous size has been so dealt with, but it is necessary
for an accurate fall . . . The crack ran up the Askam side
of the huge mast. It trembled and then came straight down upon
itself like a concertina. There was no room for the last thirty
yards of it to fall and this toppled slowly over and crashed
mightily alongside the old engine house.
The whole thing had happened before you could count to five.
All that is left now is a great heap of bricks and southward
stretches another low mound of bricks and iron bands that once
circled the chimney to the top.
How old is
Ireleth? Is there any archaeological evidence of early life
Askam's age is easy to verify, but Ireleth is trickier. As
with the village's name (see opposite) much is open to discussion.
On many maps the top of High Haume is marked as being an ancient
settlement. This would make sense; it offers excellent strategic
views of the oversands route and much of the area south to
Walney. However, little or no actually archaeological work
has been carried out there (though Melville and Hobbs did a
Barnes hypothesised that High Haume might be the site of the
ancient capital of Hougun, though Steve Dickinson in The
the Bay has carried out a
fairly clear demolition of this theory.
Having said this, there are several reasons to believe that
Ireleth has been in existence since pre-Domesday times. Firstly,
its name has clear links to Norse or Irish colonisers. Secondly,
for the oversands route and the top road from Dalton to Kirkby
almost certainly means that there would have been some kind
of settlement here. Thirdly, Abbey records of Stephengarth
(later Marsh Grange) imply that land was being cultivated in
the region from earlier than the eleventh century.
is the oldest part of Askam — the station end or the
The Lots end can lay claim to being the oldest planned part of
Askam, though dwellings quickly sprang up at the northern end of
village. 'Chapter Two: House and Home' of A Short History of
Ireleth and Askam-in-Furness covers this in full.
into the area when the Park deposit was discovered, but
or no accommodation available. Ireleth landholders began to capitalise
by selling off stretches of fields near the workings; these fields
correspond exactly with Steel and Sharp streets, and the other
streets that run parallel to them (going north).
As the village grew, the ore investors developed an ambitious plan
for Askam. This formally layed-out area became the Lots. However,
at about the same time, the Furness Railway put its line through
to Kirkby. At the point where the railway crossed the oversands
route, an informal station (or, at best, dropping-off point) grew.
This is the site of the modern station and, inevitably, the place
where dwellings developed.