Appleby Stones background

Appleby Stones

Reginald Bainbrigg, a 16th century schoolmaster, collected Roman inscriptions which he displayed at his home in Appleby

The sixteen stones built into the low wall on the west side of Chapel Street are the remains of a collection made at the close of the sixteenth century by Reginald Bainbrigg (c.1545-c1613), the headmaster of Appleby School (from 1580), and William Camden’s main correspondent for Cumbria, although they do not seem ever to have met, despite Camden’s visit to The Wall with Sir Robert Cotton in 1599. Some of these stones were originally set up in Bainbrigg’s garden, with others in the wall of the school, which was on the other side of Chapel Street. The collection comprises one undoubted original Roman inscription, three possible originals, four copies of Roman inscriptions made to his order, six others, known as jeu d’esprits, which are inscriptions made for him in the Roman style: and finally two unidentified stones.

The deterioration of these stones over the last 400 years, and their current neglect and exposure to risk of damage is a cause for concern.

Text and photo by Bill Shannon