Rosley Fair was held
every Whit Monday and was one of the largest fairs in the county of
Cumberland, if not in the country. The horse sales continued fortnightly,
until Michaelmas, in earlier years.
The site of Rosley
Fair as it is today
The fair probably started as a result of the position of the settlement.
Rosley lies on one of the traditional drovers routes for the movement north-
south of beasts. From the middle ages until the introduction of the Railways
Scottish cattle were driven south through east Cumberland and the hill upon
which the fair took place was a regular resting place for the drovers,
particularly those who were moving cattle which had been fattened locally
and were then continuing south. The position of the fair was formalised in
1639 when Charles 1 awarded the fair a Royal Charter. By the end of the
eighteenth century more than 80,000 cattle were being driven south annually:
a large proportion of these came through Cumbria, some having crossed the
Solway Firth and coming via Rosley Hill, the site of the Fair.
Below you can see the drove roads commonly
used in the movement of animals. Rosley was well situated on the north south
route until the introduction of the railways led to the decline of droving
as a means of moving beasts around the country.