Adam Sedgwick of Dentdale and Cowgill


Dent Village and Dentdale

‘The Dent Fault cuts across the valley close to the village of Gawthrop, marking a geological boundary between the carbonferous limestone of Deepdale and the Craven Dales to the south and the older Silurian and Ordovician rocks of the Howgill Fells to the north.’
In modern times tourists and the Dalesway pass along the valley towards Dent and onward to Sedbergh. I am not sure Adam Sedgwick, dents world famous geologist, would approve of all the changes that have come to Dentdale but he would be proud that his legacy and geological knowledge is still celebrated.
Dent is also famous since the 18th century for its knitters who used local wool to produce garments and socks during the first world war.
Get the full Dent story on a visit to Dent Heritage Centre.

Dent Railway

From Dent the valley winds its way through Cowgill, on its way to Dent station which is a surprising 4.5 miles from the village. In fact the station is much nearer Cowgill.
Dent is the highest railway station in Britain, at over 1100 feet above sea level. Dent station is a stop on the famous Carlisle to Settle Railway where you can still catch a steam train on special excursions.
The line crosses the huge viaducts at Arten Gill, Ribblehead viaduct and Dent Head.

Settle and dent

Adam Sedgwick

Nearby is St John the Evangelist church enroute to the railway station for Dent which serves all the villages around. The church has connections to Adam Sedgwick, the father of modern geology, who came from a local family of Vicars. Cambridge University still maintains a museum in his name the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Science but the monument most people will know is the vaguely pyramidal stone on the cobble streets of Dent engraved Adam Sedgwick 1785- 1873.
Returning to the tribulations of the Cowgill Chapel there is an account by Adam Sedgwick of Orthological skulduggery (scanned in by Google) entitled ‘A Memorial by the Trustees of Cowgill Chapel By Adam Sedgwick, Cowgill Chapel (Yorkshire) 1868. The curate of the new church attempted to change the name of the local hamlet from Kirthwaite to Kirkthwaite without informing the trustees of which Adam Sedgwick was one. Since the Sedgwick family were already bemoaning the change of name of Coegill to Cowgill they put up a robust fight resulting in an ecclesiastical court battle. From the foundation stone laying in 1837 until the final protest in 1866 the story hints at empire building and parochial politics that could still be relevant today. With added appendices about Climate History and Dialects of Dent it makes a fascinating read to see what exercised the bright minds of the time.

The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is the oldest of the University of Cambridge museums, having been established in 1728 as the Woodwardian Museum…….. it is now a major teaching and research resource and the Sedgwick Museum collections are a national treasure.

Book Cover

Cowgill and Around

Cowgill and particularly The Sportsmans Inn was a favourite watering hole for our family when the children were young. I was able to drink and the kids could dabble and fall in the Cowgill rivulet. The Sportsmans Inn now advertises itself as ‘a family owned chain of one’.
Cowgill was the home of the Dent Marble mill, where fossilised limestone was quarried, cut, dressed and polished, to make luxury fireplaces and memorials.

Book Cover
Click on the travel guide image or this link for a book from Amazon Sedbergh, Garsdale and Dent: Peeps at the Past History and Present Condition of Some Picturesque Yorkshire Dales (1910)

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