Furness Timeline

Furness Timeline

Furness Prehistory Timeline

To find out more about this fascinating period and see wonderful objects on display, come to our Stone Axe, Blood Axe, Conquest gallery.

As we have no written evidence (and in fact we don't know anytting about the language spoken for most of Britain's prehistoric period), we are reliant on the remains of buildings and especially objects to provide us with evidence of the peoples that once lived here. However, as organic materials can deteriorate without much trace the discovery of objects becomes vital in helping us understand the distant past. There is also a small amount of linguistic evidence, from river and hill names and DNA analysis is becoming increasingly important.

Furness Prehistory


Circa 10,000 BC about 12,0000 years ago

  • End of ice age
  • People settle in Cumbria, see Palaeolithic flint above 


Circa 10,000-4,000 BC

  • Hunting and gathering society
  • Evidence for people on Walney


Circa 4,000-2,000 BC

  • Farming in Britain started
  • Langdale axe production in Furness (see image right)


Circa 2,000-800 BC

  • Exploitation and trade of metal resources
  • Birkrigg stone circle was put up


Circa 800 BC - AD 43

  • Settlements, fortifications and conflict
  • Hill fort at Skelmore Heads (Urswick) likely to have been inhabited in this period

What Comes After Prehistory?

Prehistoric Britain is Britain from the first arrival of humans on this land mass and the start of recorded British history. Recorded British history is conventionally reckoned to begin in AD 43 with the Roman invasion of Britain.

In Furness we have evidence for humans after the end of the last Ice Age but not before (evidence has been found in other parts of Britain of members of the Homo genus dating back hundreds of thousands of years).


AD 43 - AD 409

  • Romans invaded England
  • No built evidence (roads, buildings) for Romans occupying Furness but Roman objects discovered here, for more information on Romans in Furness click on this link


AD 400s

  • Peoples from modern-day Holland, Denmark and Germany settled in England
  • Little evidence for the Angles and Saxons in Furness


AD 790s onwards

  • Viking hit and run raids became common
  • Furness Viking Hoard is buried sometime after 959 AD 


1066 - 1485

  • The Normans, whose ancestors were Vikings, took over England after their victory in 1066
  • Many castles are built, including the one at Gleaston
  • The area is dominated by Furness Abbey until its dissolution in 1537


16th century onwards

  • Barrow and surrounding villages are fairly sleepy until the opening of the Furness Railway in 1846


"circa" means about in Latin and is commonly used in archaeology and history in combination with dates

"BC" means Before Christ [was born]

"AD" means Anno Domini (year of our Lord or the year Jesus Christ was born)

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1 hour from the M6 through the south lakes

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