Burnswark a hill with stories

This photograph was taken from near Bowness on Solway in Cumbria, England and the distinctive hill seen on the skyline is called Burnswark and is near Lockerbie about 10 miles north of Annan in south west Scotland on the north side of the Solway estuary. Burnswark is a hill that can be seen from many different places on the Solway coast and over time it has become a place of intrigue for me and somewhere that I was keen to visit.

Whilst attending a great talk at the West Cumbria Archeological Society  about the Caledonian hill fort which once stood on the top of the Burnswark plateau I learned about the demise of the small native British community who lived on top of the hill until the time just after the death of Emperor Hadrian (of Hadrian’s Wall fame) who died in AD 138.

After Hadrian died Antoninus Pius took the throne of Rome and it is during his reign that the removal of the community living on Burnswark hill plateau is believed to have taken place.  Evidence of Roman army camps have been found to both the north and the south sides of Burnswark and the events that took place there have been contested for many centuries by different archeologists.    Early surveys of Burnswark suggested to archeologists that the hill had been a Roman military practice ground or a seige site. Recent finds of substantial amounts of Roman sling bullets and ballista have however produced a new theory that an assault by Roman legions destroyed the native British community living in a fort on the hill.

Armed with this knowledge, I decided I had to pay a visit to Burnswark. So on a clear frosty November morning my old dad and I drove to the Lockerbie area, parked the car, donned our boots and walked the short path up onto Burnswark hilltop. It was beautiful and did not disappoint.  A stunning full 360 degree view looking across to the Cumbrian Lake District fells, taking in the length of the Solway – we thought we could see as far as Workington to the south in Cumbria – and a distant view of Criffel in south west Scotland. North into the Scottish Borders and south east views of the northern Pennine hills. Very splendid.  When the Covid 19 lockdown allows I hope very much to revisit this place to once again take in the fabulous views of the Solway estuary, Borders and northern hills that it offers.

Outlaw King Solway Secrets

Heritage sites around both the Scottish and the English sides of the Solway coast have significant links to Robert the Bruce and Edward I.  One such site in Cumbria is the abbey in the photograph below. This is where the father of Robert the Bruce,  the Earl of Carrick, was buried and which in later years was also raided by  his son ‘The Bruce’.

The abbey where the father of Robert the Bruce is buried

Edward I was not buried at the site of his death as shown in the new Netflix film Outlaw King. His body was taken to the nearest church, which was in Cumbria, and there lay in state until the arrival of his son Edward II, who then took the remains of his father to Westminster for a royal funeral.

You can experience these places and learn more about their connections with Robert the Bruce and Edward I by booking a Secret Solway guided tour.  To find out more about Secret Solway tours email  info@solwayconnections.co.uk or phone (+44)07494489901.  www.solwayconnections.co.uk


Secret Solway Starlings

Secret Solway Starlings


Solway Starlings beginning to flock as night time arrives.

Just before 4.00pm on a cold, clear winter evening we arrived at the Easton junction on Burgh marsh near the  Solway estuary in Cumbria, UK. Having been told that as night arrived starlings were beginning to gather here in large numbers in the trees and on the telegraph wires, we wanted to try and photograph a starling murmuration with a sunset backdrop. Yes the birds were there, not as many as last year at  the nearby Watchtree Nature Reserve when it was thought that over fifty thousand birds were roosting and not as many as the hundreds of thousands seen in previous years at Gretna Green, but there was the beginning of a Starling murmuration. The birds took to flight as the light began changing. We snapped a photo of them beginning to flock together with a backdrop of Criffel mountain in Scotland and then they headed south east only occasionally looping back round towards us, but not so that we could get another photograph. They stayed low in the sky, and did not bunch up tightly nor form shifting shapes in the sky as we have seen in previous years. Without warning the birds suddenly dropped down into fir trees. Perhaps it was just too cold for flying around.   The number of Starlings might increase over the winter months - there may still be the chance later in the season to get that photograph.

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