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In a beautiful corner of the Vale of Eden, Ormside is a small village set around a small triangular village green.
A walk down the the Main Street can be rewarding on a number of levels, particularly with a number of “honesty boxes” for the purchase of top quality eggs at very competitive prices, in some instances alongside a variety of seasonal jams and chutneys. As you approach St James Church at the end of the road, there is a large sycamore tree growing out of the centre of a flight of steps, which is thought to replace a Preaching Cross.
Ormside is believed to be the former seat of Orm, a descendant of Viking warrior who around 915 AD pillaged Northumbria and who’s scions eventually settled in the Dales (see the “Village History”). He established a burial ground on the site of St James’ Church which after the population converted to Christianity, was retained as a church.
The village church, St James, the oldest church in the Carlisle Diocese, is a scheduled ancient monument, and stands on a hill beside the River Eden. The “bowl” of the font is Norman as are the two arches between the Nave and the Hilton Chapel.
In the churchyard is an ancient cross socket dated 1643, and it is here that the Ormside Bowl was found in the early 19th century. This is an outstanding piece of Saxon metalwork dating from the 9th century, which is now on show in York museum. In 1823 the “Ormside Bowl” dating from the 7th or 8th century was unearthed in the churchyard and is now on display in the Yorkshire Museum in York. This bowl made of Silver and Gold, is regarded as one of the country’s most valuable and rare Anglo-Saxon artefacts. 75 years later, in 1898, a Viking burial of a warrior with his sword was discovered in the churchyard. The sword is now in Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.
During its history, Ormside has played an important role in the development of British history. It is believed that the design of the Norman church at Ormside was the work of Bishop Osmande (died 1099) one of the compilers of the Doomsday Book and a nephew of William the Conqueror. He later became Bishop of Salisbury and was canonised in 1457.