"Lanercost is a large and picturesque district, which extends about ten miles in length, from east to west, and nine from north to south. It is bounded on the south and east by the river Irthing, on the north by the parish of Bewcastle, and on the west by the parishes of Walton and Stapleton. Hadrian's Wall runs through the parish and many sections may still be seen, including an important Roman station at Birdoswald. The parish is divided into four townships; Askerton, Burtholme, Kingwater, and Waterhead." [Description from T. Bulmer & Co's History, Topography and Directory of East Cumberland, 1884]
A number of books and materials of interest are available from the Cumbria Archive Service and are described on that page.
One fiction title especially captures the early Lanercost experience. It is set at Askerton, in the north of Lanercost parish and gives an image of life during the reiver era.
The Candlemass Road, George MacDonald Fraser, Harvill, An Imprint of Harper Collins, London, 1993. ISBN 0 00 271362 4.
This is historical fiction; entertaining and very interesting as it concerns real names and places from the Lanercost (Askerton), Bewcastle and border area, set during the border troubles and laced with reiver names: Noble, Elliott and Armstrong. A very good read by an author who is an expert on the area and its history.
History, Topography and Directory of East Cumberland, T.F. Bulmer, T.Bulmer & Co., Manchester, 1884. One of several 19th century directories that covers Lanercost. It provides a good description and history of the parish and lists the residents.
The parish draws its name from that of Lanercost Abbey or Priory, and its history is perhaps the greatest factor influencing the history of the parish. The ruins of the Abbey are open for visits during the mild weather months of the year, and are managed by English Heritage. The nave of the original Abbey is used as the parish church to this day, and is open for visit year round. In about 1166, Robert de Vaux, provided an endowment, establishing a house of Augustinian Cannons. The church was partially completed by 1200 and finished by 1220. Lanercost continued as a Priory until the Dissolution in 1536. During this period, the Priory was visited three times by Edward I but was also three times ransacked by invading Scots. Following the Dissolution, the buildings belonged to Sir Thomas Dacre, but the north aisle was used as a parish church. In 1740, the church was enlarged by the restoration of the nave, the arrangement used today.