Furness (IPAEng|ˈfɘˑnəs) is a peninsula in the southern part of Cumbria, in north-west England. As a socio-cultural unit, it is more loosely defined. At its widest extent, it is considered to cover the whole of North Lonsdale, that part of the Lonsdale hundred that is an exclave of the historic county borders of Lancashire, lying to the north of Morecambe Bay. [ [http://www.furnessfhs.co.uk/furness_area.htm#LANCASHIRE%20BEYOND%20THE%20SANDS Furness Family History Society] , 'Lancashire North of the Sands', Accessed August 20, 2006.]

The area is divided into Low Furness and High Furness. Low Furness is the peninsula; [ [http://www.explorelowfurness.co.uk/ Explore Low Furness] Accessed August 20, 2006 ] it juts out into the Irish Sea and delineates the western edge of Morecambe Bay. The southern end of the peninsula is dominated by the bay's tidal mudflats. The long thin island of Walney lies off the peninsula's south-west coast. High Furness is the northern part of the area, that was part of North Lonsdale but is not on the peninsula itself. [ [http://www.furnessfhs.co.uk/furness_area.htm#HIGH%20FURNESS Furness Family History Society] Accessed August 20, 2006 ] Much of it is within the Lake District National Park, and contains the Furness Fells. It borders England's largest lake, Windermere. Additionally, the Cartmel Peninsula is often included in definitions of Furness. [ [http://www.furnessfhs.co.uk/furness_area.htm#CARTMEL Furness Family History Society] 'Cartmel' Accessed August 20, 2006 ] Strictly speaking, however, Cartmel is not part of Furness, forming a separate peninsula between the estuaries of the rivers Leven and Kent. Both areas together form "Lancashire North of the Sands".

The town of Barrow-in-Furness dominates the region with well over two thirds of its population. [ [http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/536/673/1758/38265144918.xls 2003 Cumbria population figures] Accessed August 20, 2006 ] Other principal settlements of the region are Ulverston, Coniston, Broughton-in-Furness, Cartmel, Dalton-in-Furness and Askam and Ireleth. The population of Furness stands at around 100,000.



The oldest record of its name is "Fuþþernessa" about 1150. [A.D.Mills, "Dictionary of English place-names", Oxford University Press, ISBN 0 19 280074 4] It probably came from Old Norse "Fuðarnes" = "Fuði's headland". The meaning of Old Norse "fuð" makes it clear that the man's name "Fuði" is a crude shipboard nickname with sexual reference, and not a formal name given by his parents.Fact|date=February 2007

Evidence of Roman inhabitation has remained low until recently, but archaeological surveys in Urswick have suggested that the local church dates to this time, and may even have been a monastery. It has also been claimed that this was the site of the birthplace of St Patrick. [ [http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/viewarticle.aspx?id=271177 North West Evening Mail] ] Furness was part of the Scottish Kingdom of Strathclyde, though it has also been suggested that the local Viking settlers were actually Manx, rather than coming directly from Scandinavia. By the time of the Domesday Book, Furness was at the very north-western corner of William the Conqueror's kingdom, disputed by England and the Scots.

As the border moved northwards, the status of Furness became more settled and the latter Middle Ages saw dominance by the monks of Furness Abbey. They owned much of the local land, and built structures such as Piel Castle. Buildings from this age are in the traditional sandstone of the region, which was later used for the gothic style town hall of Barrow-in-Furness in the Victorian era. At one stage, the power and wealth of Furness Abbey was exceeded in the United Kingdom only by Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds. However, the monastery fell to ruins during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s. The Abbey's lands in Furness were passed to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1540.

Furness remained a remote farming and fishing district, accessible only across the dangerous sands of Morecambe Bay. William Wordsworth was among those who enjoyed the remote splendour of the area, writing a number of sonnets about local features such as Piel Castle and the River Duddon. The highland areas of "High Furness" began to experience tourism in the late 18th century, before the tourist boom of the Victorian era.

The fortunes of Furness changed dramatically in 1840s and 1850s, when William Schneider found the second largest iron ore deposits in the United Kingdom at Askam-in-Furness. Further resources were found at Dalton-in-Furness, Lindal-in-Furness and Roose. The Furness Railway was built to transport this ore, providing the area with its first safe transport route to the rest of England.

The iron ore and steelworks were, at their time, the biggest in the world. The population of Barrow-in-Furness rose from a few hundred to 47,000 by 1881, bypassing Dalton-in-Furness and Ulverston as the area's biggest town, and engulfing a number of smaller villages along the way. The Furness Railway expanded to the mining sites at Coniston and Greenodd, and helped develop Barrow along a unique town plan. Mining in Furness reached its peak in 1882, when 1,408,693 tons of ore were won. At the same time, the popularity of tourism in the Coniston and Hawkshead areas increased, popularised in part by the work of John Ruskin.

Tourism in High Furness was promoted by the writings of Beatrix Potter in the early part of the 20th century. Potter was one of the largest landowners in the area, eventually donating her many properties to the National Trust. In particular, sites such as Coniston Water, Tarn Hows and Windermere became popular.

Iron and steel soon gave over to shipbuilding in Low Furness, with Barrow's docks becoming one of the largest in the United Kingdom. In particular, submarine development became a speciality of the town, with the Royal Navy's first submarines built there. During the World Wars, this allowed Furness to escape many of the economic problems that other areas suffered, due to the constant work provided by the military. Although tourism declined, the rural areas of Furness were able to rely on agriculture for survival.

After World War II demand for ships and submarines remained high, while the development of the Lake District National Park fostered tourism further. Attractions such as the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, steamers on Windermere and Coniston Water, and fell walking, caused parts of Furness to become dependent on the tourist trade.

In the 1980s, the decline of shipbuilding due to the end of the Cold War led to mass redundancies in the area. The shipyard's employment figures fell from 20,000 to 3,000 in a twenty year period. However, the shipyard in Barrow remains England's busiest and the only nuclear submarine facility in the country. Tourism has increased even more, with the Aquarium of the Lakes and South Lakes Wild Animal Park among the newer attractions.

Transport has become an increasingly controversial issue, with conservation groups and local business clashing over the need for improvements to the A590 trunk road, the main link to the M6 Motorway. Proposals for a road bridge over Morecambe Bay have appeared, but are yet to progress beyond the planning stages.


The Furness region consists mostly of low-lying hills, forests and flats, with some higher ground towards the north.

The highest point of the region is Coniston Old Man at 803 m (2634 ft). Other notable summits include Dow Crag, Wetherlam and Swirl How which, together with "The Old Man", are known as the Furness Fells. Gummer's How is a prominent hill in the east of the region.

Lakes include Windermere, Coniston Water and Esthwaite Water. The wide expanse of Grizedale Forest stands in-between these lakes.


Settlements with population over 10,000 There are only three settlements in Furness with a population over 10,000. Barrow which is home to around three quarters of the areas population, with Ulverston and Dalton following. Other notable towns with a population under 10,000 are Coniston, Broughton, Cartmel, and Askam and Ireleth.

There are no official demographic statistics for Furness, as it is not an official district, region or county. For demographics in the largest town - Barrow - See here, or the county - Cumbria - as a whole see here.


Industry is the largest employer in the Furness region, and has been for over 100 years. Currently the biggest employers in the area are:


Furness was a detached part of the historic county of Lancashire bordering Cumberland to the north-west and Westmorland to the north-east (see Three Shire Stone). It is known as "Lancashire beyond the sands [of Morecambe Bay] " or "north of the sands" or "over the sands" as in Grange-over-Sands. The area formed the northern part of the hundred of Lonsdale.

In 1974 Furness became part of the shire county of Cumbria. At the district level it now consists of Barrow Borough and part of South Lakeland.

Some people, particularly those born or brought up in the area, prefer to retain the designation "Lancashire".

Towns and villages

Towns and villages in Furness include:
*Aldingham, Askam-in-Furness
*Backbarrow, Bardsea, Barrow-in-Furness, Baycliff, Bouth, Broughton-in-Furness
*Coniston, Colton
*Dalton-in-Furness, Dendron
*Furness Abbey, Foxfield
*Gleaston, Great Urswick and Little Urswick, Greenodd
*Haverthwaite, Hawkshead
*Lakeside, Leece, Lindal-in-Furness
*Newby Bridge, Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey, Newton-in-Furness
*Roose, Rampside, Roa Island
*Satterthwaite, Scales, Stainton with Adgarley, Swarthmoor
*Walney Island

See also the Islands of Furness

Rivers and lakes

*River Brathay — forms the northern boundary along with Wrynose Pass
*Coniston Water
*River Crake
*River Duddon — forms the western boundary
*Esthwaite Water
*River Leven
*Rusland Pool
*Windermere is part of the eastern boundary of Furness
*River Winster — forms the remainder of the eastern boundary


*Cumbrian Coast Line
*Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
*Furness Line
*Furness Railway

Famous people

*Sir John Barrow was born and lived in Ulverston
*George Fox and Margaret Fell lived at Swarthmoor Hall near Ulverston
*Emlyn Hughes, captain of Liverpool F.C. was born in Barrow
*Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston
*Beatrix Potter lived in Near Sawrey
*St Patrick — it has been suggested that he was born in the areaFact|date=February 2007
*George Romney, famous portrait painter was born at Dalton-in-Furness and educated at Dendron and Rampside
* Lambert Simnel, a 15th-16th century pretender to the throne, landed at Piel Island
*Steve Dixon was born in Barrow and lived in Newton-in-Furness
*Keith Tyson, artist and Turner Prize winner, was born in Ulverston and educated in Dalton and Barrow
*William Wordsworth, poet, stayed at Rampside and wrote about Piel Island.

*Over 35 famous people were born or have resided in Barrow-in-Furness, for complete list see here
*see Coniston Water for more people


*Holker Hall

See also

* Duddon & Furness Mountain Rescue Team
*Furness College - a constituent college of the University of Lancaster.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Furness — es una península en el sur de Cumbria, Inglaterra (Reino Unido). En su extensión más ancha, se considera que abarca todo North Lonsdale, aquella parte de la hundred de Lonsdale que es un enclave del condado histórico de Lancashire, que queda al… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Furness — ist der Name einer Halbinsel in der englischen Grafschaft Cumbria, siehe Furness (Halbinsel) Furness ist außerdem der Familienname folgender Personen: Deborra Lee Furness (* 1955), australische Schauspielerin Thelma Furness, Viscountess Furness… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Furness — [fʉr′nis] Horace Howard 1833 1912; U.S. Shakespearean scholar …   English World dictionary

  • Furness — 54° 16′ 12″ N 3° 05′ 19″ W / 54.27004, 3.08853 Furness est une …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Furness — /ferr nis/, n. Horace Howard, 1833 1912, and his son Horace Howard, 1865 1930, U.S. Shakespearean scholars and editors. * * * ▪ region, England, United Kingdom       region, administrative county of Cumbria, historic county of Lancashire, England …   Universalium

  • Furness — I Furness   [ fəːnɪs], Halbinsel in der County Cumbria, Nordwestengland, an der Morecambebai; die Eisenerzlagerstätte bei Barrow in Furness ist erschöpft. II Furness   [ fəːnɪs], Frank Heyling, amerikanischer Architekt, * Philadelphia 1839, ✝… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Furness — This surname, of Old Norse Viking pre 8th century origins, is a locational name from Furness a district on the south coast of Cumberland, but formerly in Lancashire. The area is recorded as Fuththernessa , in the register of the Priory of Hexham… …   Surnames reference

  • Furness — Sp Fèrnesas Ap Furness L p lis Jungtinėje Karalystėje (Anglijoje) …   Pasaulio vietovardžiai. Internetinė duomenų bazė

  • Furness — I. biographical name Horace Howard: father 1833 1912 & son 1865 1930 American Shakespeare scholars II. geographical name district N England comprising peninsula in Irish Sea in SW Cumbria …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Furness — /ˈfɜnəs/ (say fernuhs) noun a region in north western England, in Cumbria …   Australian English dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.