The Lake District is of course known for its beautiful scenery and creative people, but during the 1840s people may have been drawn to the area for a more unusual sight.
On the lakeshore at Ecclerigg Crag is a group of large rocks neatly carved with an eccentric selection of names. The names of poets such as Wordsworth and Burns, polar explorers Ross and Parry, and scientists including Isaac Newton and James Watt are all present. There are even the names of politicians and military men, along with references to the Battle of Waterloo and Magna Charta. One rock is even dedicated to a complaint about the size of the national debt that describes money as “THE SINEW OF WAR.”
According to 19th-century guides and guidebooks, the rocks were carved by a stonemason named John Longmire, from nearby Troutbeck during the 1830s. They were carved in situ, and are still visible today in the now-disused lakeside quarry.
Sometimes covered with moss or partly-covered with leaves, half the fun is discovering the names by clearing the debris. It’s fairly easy to spot four of the large inscribed rocks, but there’s apparently a few more around, including some in the lake itself.