A brief Natland history


Signs of the earliest occupation of Natland Parish include earthworks on the summit of Helm, which could be an Iron Age fort. Undoubtedly the Romans used Helm in conjunction with the Roman Fort at Watercrook situated on the banks of the Kent, at the most northerly tip of the Parish. This four acre site was occupied by the Romans from the first century to the fourth century AD and many Roman artefacts have been found.

Opinions differ as to the origin of the name "Natland".  The English Place Names Society gives the derivation of Natland as the Old Norse "Natislundr", that is, "Nati's wood",  Nati being either a mythological name or a proper name and Iundr "a small wood, a sacred grove"  However Nicolson and Burn's 1777 book "History and antiquities of the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland" describes Natland as "a small manor or lordship, containing only about 30 families. It seems to have had its name from the Nativi or bondmen probably placed there, as attendent upon the capital lord at Kendal castle to do servile offices."

The earliest recorded use of the name is in 1164. Natland Hall farm was granted permission for a chapel in 1246 and is probably the oldest building in the village.

Natland Abbey, an agricultural community, a sub-branch of Furness Abbey is another 14th century building. Watercrook Farm, Natland Mill and Cracalt Farm are also of early origin.

In 1674, the Dissenter Richard Frankland founded the Natland Academy which tutored as many as twenty students until 1693.

There is a long standing legend that Natland has a Treacle Mine.  What is certain is that there is a cave system running under the village from Helm to the river although the precise route is not known.

The Lancaster Canal ran through the west of the parish until its closure in 1947. The Lancaster Canal Trust hopes eventually to restore the canal and link it to a national waterways network.

Yan, Hamilton and Woody of the rock band British Sea Power were raised in the village.

For the definitive history of Natland and Oxenholme, see:
Natland and Oxenholme - The story of a Westmorland Village
by Whin Inglesfield, 2006

For an evolving online archive of the history of Oxenholme, see:
Oxenholme Past & Present