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The Monument to the Merry Monarch who Saved Christmas

Friday 21 December, 2018, by Hannah Kingsbury

December’s Site of the Month is Black Dub Monument. The monument is situated at the source of River Lyvennet on Crosby Ravensworth Fell – Dub itself means watering hole. The obelisk records that Charles II and his army rested at that spot (that is now commemorated) on their march from Scotland on 8th August 1651.

The involvement of Charles II (otherwise known as the Merry Monarch) is perhaps a very tenuous connection to Christmas. However, in 1660 he would restore the monarchy and “restore” Christmas. During the Interregnum when Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector festival days, including Christmas, were not allowed to be celebrated, instead they were meant to be spent in respectful contemplation.

The march south by Charles II was following his coronation as King of Scots in Scone on 1st January 1651 (this was the last such coronation in Scone). He had been proclaimed King of Scotland in 1649 following the execution of Charles I. Charles II led his Scots-Royalist army from Scotland on 31 July 1651 into England. The English royalists failed to materialise, and Charles was decisively defeated by Cromwell in Worcester on 3 September. Charles managed to escape to France. Charles did not return till 1660.

Image of black dub monument

Black Dub Monument on Crosby Ravensworth Fell

The monument was erected by Thomas Bland of Reagill in around 1851 to commemorate the occasion. It was renewed in 1861 at the expense of Mr Gibson. In the 18th century Reagill (an isolated hamlet) was the home of Thomas Bland. Bland was an artist, poet, sculptor, composer and geologist. He is also known for his eccentric nature and his work is abundant in the local area.

The Black Dub Monument is constructed from rough-dressed stone blocks. It is square in plan. There are two steps surmounted by a base. On the base there is a cubic block which is decorated with an inscription and bas-reliefs. [Also referred to as low-reliefs – this is where shapes are cut from the surrounding stone so that they stand out slightly against a flat surface.] A squat obelisk stands on this.
The inscription reads:
AUGUST 8TH, A.D. 1651

The three bas-reliefs show a profile bust of Charles II, a crown (which Charles wished to possess), and a lion (which symbolises the thwarting of his hopes at the battle of Worcester).

The monument was suffering from slumping. To consolidate the monument it was dismantled which revealed the cause of the subsidence. As a result the internal structure was successfully rebuilt. The works on the monument revealed that it was originally of dry-stone construction, though there was evidence of consolidation work since it had been erected originally.

You can see a couple more pictures on the Visit Cumbria website –

Historic Environment Record: MYD63085
Designation: Grade II listed
OS Grid Reference: NY60381086
Civil Parish: Crosby Ravensworth
Dale: Upper Eden Valley
Access: A PROW leads to the monument and it is situated on open access land.
Picture of Hannah Kingsbury

Hannah Kingsbury

Hannah is the Cultural Heritage Officer for the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership scheme


2 Replies to “The Monument to the Merry Monarch who Saved Christmas”

  1. Joan Raine says:

    it’s a shame that the powers that be in the Yorkshire dales extension consultation “Refused” to include Reagill and the fantastic Thomas Blands image garden where many more examples of his work are.. Luckily the owner of the garden has preserved and repaired them

    • Thank you for this super article. Another interesting connection with royalty from this area, I believe, are two archaic bronze spoons, currently in The British museum. One has a small hole in its bowl and the other has an engraved cross that matches the hole’s position exactly. I believe that these were used once to anoint a monarch with holy oil , a one-time use before they were discarded in the bog. The spoon with the cross might have been held over the monarch’s forehead and the one with the hole positioned so as to drip the oil exactly on target, then the lower spoon removed and so the monarch anointed without mess. Just a theory, but I feel it fits the peculiar evidence.

      Yes, I agree with Joan Raine’s comment about the desirability of including Reagill’s Image Garden. A further connection with ancient royalty, in Reagill area is the mysterious Boggle steayne , reported to have been a large boulder beside a pool, that had a hole like unto a footprint in which prospective kings placed their feet!

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