Davidson's Monument
Statue Carlisle Cumbria

Davidson's Monument

Statue In Carlisle, Cumbria

A remote 19th century monument in the border forest of Kershope marking the spot of a gamekeeper killed by poachers and a large prehistoric Neolithic burial mound.

Sometimes when looking at the OS Map you come across something which piques your interest. Davidson's Monument is one such thing. It appears as a named monument in the middle of Kershope Forest which is part of the Kielder Forest Park, England's largest man-made woodland.

Davidson's Monument itself is situated by one of the forestry tracks and was erected by subscription in 1852 to mark the murder of Thomas Davidson. Thomas Davidson was a gamekeeper who was murdered by poachers on the spot of the Monument on 8 November 1849.

The story of the memorial was investigated by Margaret Rich of the Mountain Bothies Association. She looked at old copies of the Carlisle Journal to put together the fascinating story of Thomas Davidson. Davidson lived at Kettle Hall in the far North East of Cumberland. He was married with eight children and was described as a "steady and honest servant" of Sir James Graham (who was notable as serving as Home Secretary and having a part of Antarctica named after him!). Davidson was a poacher himself in his younger days which reputedly made him a master at capturing poachers and understanding their ways!

Thomas Davidson's murder took place on the 8 November 1849. He had set out to undertake his usual rounds (in his role as gamekeeper) but did not return in the evening. A search ensued for Davidson the next day. Davidson's body was found near a sheepfold, two miles from his home. He had been strangled with his own neckerchief and had been left lying face down in a pool of his own blood.

Three suspects were identified and caught, James Hogg (a notorious poacher who had recently been fined by Davidson), his cousin Nicholas Hogg and a 24 year old called Andrew Turnbull. The three were investigated and subsequently accused of murder and imprisoned in Carlisle Gaol. Three days after imprisonment Andrew Turnbull (who had maintained his innocence) hanged himself in his cell.

Beneath his cell window he wrote that "The two Hoggs are guilty. I am innocent. I will not come in the hands of man." The two Hoggs were subsequently brought to trial with a great deal of local interest. Ultimately they were found not guilty with the two Hoggs seemingly crossing the border and remaining in Scotland thereafter. No one was ever brought to justice for the murder of Thomas Davidson, though suspicion remains upon the Hoggs.

There must have been a strong feeling about the incident in the local community with the monument erected some 3 years after his murder by subscription.

Davidson's Monument is around 9.6km (there and back) from the car parking area. As it's part of a working forest you need to make sure you have your bearings as it's easy to get lost otherwise! The benefit of a working forest, however, is that it's generally good underfoot.

Use the map above or follow on OS Maps on your phone.

View Route In OS Maps

The walk to Davidson's Monument is uphill in places, but gives tremendous views across to the North Pennines and the Scottish Borders. The forest itself is dominated by Sitka Spruce which makes up around 75% of Kielder Forest (of which Kershope Forest is a part). One thing is certain if visiting Davidson's Monument you will see a lot of trees! Though when the monument was erected the forest would not have existed as it does today.

There is an inscription on the monument and reads as follows:

IN MEMORY OF

THOMAS DAVIDSON

GAME WATCHER WHO WAS MURDERED ON THIS SPOT ON THE 8TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 1849

GENESIS IV.10.

AND THE LORD SAID UNTO CAIN

WHAT HAST THOU DONE

THE VOICE OF THY BROTHERS BLOOD CRIETH UNTO ME FROM THE GROUND

ROMANS XII.19.

IT IS WRITTEN VENGENCE

IS MINE I WILL REPAY SAITH THE LORD

ERECTED BY SUBSCRIPTION

1852

The car parking area is pretty remote, with it's along narrow roads and has no amenities apart from a memorial bench. The bench is a stone structure and was put in place in 1997 in memory of Billy Fawkes. He appears to have spent time researching wildlife in the area. On a nice day it's a lovely place to rest with the burn bubbling away nearby. Given the lack of amenities make sure you bring your own refreshments!

You can extend your walk in the area to the impressive Long Cairn (also known as The Currick) (Long Cairn what3words). It's well worth doing so as the structure is huge! It was another feature marked on the OS map and I was unsure whether you'd actually be able to see it but I needn't have worried as it could not be missed from the forestry track!

Long Cairns were constructed as burial mounds during the early and middle Neolithic periods (c. 3400-2400 BC). They were the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and are believed to have been used for communal burials. Sometimes they even have internal structures including stone-lined compartments and tomb chambers. Historic England categories all examples of Long Cairns as nationally important owing to their age and rarity.

The size and scale of the Long Cairn demonstrates the importance of the area at prehistoric times and Historic England state the area around Bewcastle has multiple prehistoric monuments. The Long Cairn measures up to 2m in height, 22.5m wide and a staggering 45m long! There is a hollow which is believed to be the site of a collapsed of megalithic chamber with further indentations in the Cairn suggesting there were further megalithic chambers.

It's well worth the detour as it is an unusual prehistoric structure and it's size certainly makes it impressive!

Also in the area is Kershopehead, a bothy maintained and available for use by the Mountain Bothies Association and the Kershope Burn which acts as the border between England and Scotland. You are welcome to stay in the bothy but it is asked that you are respectful of the space and other users.

There's plenty to see and explore in this remote part of England and lots of history to discover!

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How To Find Davidson's Monument

Where Is Davidson's Monument?

Show Place On Google Maps

Lat / Long

55.151286, -2.731977

What three words

nuns.craziest.soft

Where To Park For Davidson's Monument?

Show Parking On Google Maps

Lat / Long

55.119526, 55.119526

What three words

scaffold.beeline.lectured

Limited parking available at Cuddyshall Bridge, look for the Forestry England and memorial bench. Don't bloke the forestry road as access may be required and always park considerately to other users!

Contributed by Sean Linley

A keen walker and wildlife enthusiast and dog dad originally from Leeds but a Newcastle resident for 10 years with a passion for history and heritage. Always curious about my local area and always on the lookout for something new. You’ll often find me studying the OS map for new places to explore!

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Sean Linley

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Davidson's Monument was listed in Statue // Cumbria // Carlisle