Family History Notebook

Page last updated 14/08/21

Swindale (Brough), Westmorland

Upper Swindale looking up to Windmore Edge

The Swindale Beck rises on Musgrave Fell and runs down through Brough to join the River Eden close to Great Musgrave. There are no known connections with any Swindale family (other than the name!) but the following information and pictures are included for general interest.

The ancient route across the Pennines via Stainmore which crosses the Swindale Beck at Brough dates back to at least the bronze age and the Roman fort of Verteris led to the modern name of Brough (from Burgh - a fortification). The 'modern' Norman castle so striking from the A66 dates back to William II and was given to Robert de Vipont in 1204. From him it passed to the Cliffords but was mainly demolished in 1695.

The Swindale Beck was previously known as the Hellbeck until at least the 16th century and gave that name to the manor of Hellbeck (or Helbeck) before 1160. It is thought that the upper reaches of the valley were known as Swindale and the name came to be applied to the beck which forms the south-eastern boundary of Helbeck manor.

Brough itself is divided into Church Brough - around the castle and church - and Market Brough. The market dates back to at least 1331 and continued a major event until the late nineteenth century. It is commemorated in the local rhyme
     "Two days at Brough Hill we hope you'll remember
     That the first of October and the last of September".

The Swindale Beck as it enters Brough

Swindale runs up into the hills north of Brough with Swindale Grange (previously known as High Brough Mill1) half a kilometer upstream of Brough. (Swindale Head House is three kilometers further up the valley with Intake Side, Well Head, Woodside and Windmore in between.

Swindale Grange (previously High Brough Mill)

Looking down Swindale from Swindalehead Farm


1    1865 Ordnance Survey Map and discussion with Mrs Dent of Swindale Grange in September 2002. Mrs Dent had lived at Swindale Grange for some 40 years and confirmed that it was previously known as High Mill or High Brough Mill. She thought her husband's family changed the name in the 1880s or 1890s. It is now a working farm but old millstones are lying all over the place.



Intake Side Farm

The firing range warning at the head of Swindale

Lower Swindale (but still above Brough)

3    The Place Names of Westmorland Part 2

1671 Fleming, 1702 PR(B) Hil(l)beck(e) 1700, 1702 PR(B), 1823 M.
The name may well refer to the stream in the deep valley of Swindale, v. hellir 'cave', bekkr, ModE dial. hell-beck 'stream issuing from a cave-like recess or dark ravine', cf. Hellgill (i, 62 ...)
In 1577 Harrison stated that Swindale Beck was 'called Hellbecke because it commeth from the derne and elinge mountaines' (that is from the hidden and remote mountains). The first el. was changed to Hill- as being less offensive.

1863 OS named from Swindale, replacing Hillbeck as the stream name.

Title                    English Place-Name Society, Volume 43 -
Contributor     English Place-Name Society
Publisher          The University Press, 1967


Swindale origins