Today is   Last update 23-04-2017
Public Benefit

The Society's charitable purpose is the advancement of education and culture in the fields of the arts, heritage and science. To promote, encourage, foster and coordinate the study of archaeology, history, genealogy, customs and traditions with special reference to the County of Cumbria which now includes the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands and the Sedbergh district of Yorkshire.

The society funds historical and archaeological research with grants to volunteer groups, schools, museums and academic/professional researchers: operates a website with accessible heritage information: supports local historical societies in studying the historical environment: holds study days, lectures and visits; publishes a respected journal, plus books and other publications.

Final Report and
Accounts 2017

The Final Report and Accounts ending January 2017 are available to download from the link below.


For further details of the Society Constitution please click the following link.

Affiliated Groups

For further details of the Affiliated Groups please click the following link.


To see the advantages of membership and to join the society please click on the Membership button located in the main menu bar at the top of every page.


Grants and Bursaries are available. Applications are considered 3 or 4 times a year. These are looked after by the Research and Grants Committee. For further details click on the Grants and Bursaries button located in the main menu bar at the top of every page.


The staple of the Society’s publishing has always been the volumes of Transactions commencing in 1874 and continuing to the present day. In addition other titles are regularly issued. For further information regarding Publications please click on the Our Publications button located in the top menu bar of every page.

Hadrian’s Wall

This takes place once every ten years. It is organised jointly by CWAAS and SANT. It commemorates the first organised group visit to the Wall. This was arranged and led by John Collingwood Bruce of Newcastle in 1849. In recent years the Pilgrimage has begun alternately at the east or west end of this outstanding Roman structure and been completed on reaching the other. Pilgrims find out about the last ten years' finds and theories concerning Hadrian's Wall. For news and photos of the most recent Pilgrimage click on the button below.

Andrew Selkirk and Rachel Newman at CWAAs reception

Andrew Selkirk, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Current Archaeology,, enjoys a chat with Rachel Newman, Director of Oxford Archaeology North, at the CWAAS Reception at the Cumbria Park Hotel, Carlisle.

The Society’s Work

The business of the Society is conducted by the Council, the Officers and the four main Committees.From time to time a Working Party is set up to deal with a specific issue.

See details of the Officers, Council of the Society and the Committees by clicking on the appropriate button below.

And then there was CWAAS.....

1866: the year when the CWAAS was founded to encourage interest in the history and archaeology of Cumberland and Westmorland.

Papers on members’ researches were published from the first in Transactions, which had a section called Proceedings.

While the Transactions present the scholarly work of members and others on aspects of the heritage of the two counties, Cumberland and Westmorland, Proceedings carry full records of what the Society did, and bring to life the pleasures of being an early member of this new Society interested in Cumbrian history and archaeology. Short extracts from the Proceedings appear from time to time on our CWAAS Early Days page.

Growing a Society.....

Mid-Twentieth Century: 4 Regional Groups (part of CWAAS, but running their own affairs) were set up, centred in Carlisle, Penrith, Kendal and Egremont.

1974: Local Government boundaries were changed and Cumbria was created out of Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire-over-Sands and Sedbergh district (formerly in Yorkshire) - see Home Page map.

2006: New Charities legislation led to a change of name for the 4 Groups, which still flourish and are now ’Affiliated’, not ’Regional’, Groups.

Being a Society.....

Once March comes round, the post brings the bumper mailing of the year. The packet contains the AGM papers, the Spring Newsletter, flyers advertising books and events, and the CWAAS core Programme of Activities for the coming year.

Annual AGM Day - that’s the start of the Programme, usually in April. The 4 Affiliated Groups take it in turn to act as host for the main Society’s important day; so being involved takes CWAAS members to many Cumbrian venues.

As well as the Day’s important AGM business, activities offered might include a lecture from a speaker of note; or short reports from members involved in different aspects of the Society’s work; a guided tour of a section of the town being visited; an excursion to a nearby church or other building of special interest, or a visit to a local museum. Sometimes the launch of a CWAAS publication is arranged as part of the Day’s pattern. There’s plenty of variety.


After the AGM Day, the ’opening day of the activities season’ as it were, members have quite a lot to look forward to: the May Walk, which takes in sites of different periods, with experts on hand to explain matters of history, archaeology, general significance; the ’Summer Evening’, for which the owners of a historic house (usually one not open to the general public) lend their home so that CWAAS members have the chance to explore the house and to learn the building’s history, after which a splendid meal brings the evening to a close; and the Autumn Lunch or Dinner, a chance to gather and recall the events of the CWAAS Spring and Summer.

In addition to core events, book launches, extra day visits to places of interest, or a four-day or week-long excursion might be offered.

One CWAAS activity is held only every ten years. The renowned Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall attracts some 200 scholars and interested amateurs from all over the world. CWAAS and SANT (Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne) form a joint committee which makes all the arrangements. For details of the Pilgrimage see the left hand panel of this page.

Click on Activities to find out how our activities are organised and to see the CWAAS yearly Activities Programme. When winter brings the Programme to a close, the website offers a review of the year’s activities, with brief descriptions and photographs.

And belonging.....

CWAAS Membership is renewable annually in July and is open to anyone with an interest in Cumbria’s past, its history and archaeology. Main categories are: Member; Family Member, at reduced price; and Associate Member, at reduced price, being a student in full time education.

The Membership page supplies details of our substantial membership benefits and how to join us, along with an application form.

Membership of CWAAS does not directly confer membership of the 4 CWAAS Affiliated Groups based in Carlisle, Kendal, Penrith and Egremont (in the South West). Each of the 4 has its own procedures and accounts. Clicking the Read More button below will take you to the Activities programmes of all the Affiliated Groups.

The CWAAS Seal

The Society’s Twentieth-century Badge

CWAAS Collingwood Seal - Click on picture for larger version. If you have a pop up blocker or it does not open then hold down the control key whilst clicking on the photo.
Click for larger image


CWAAS was identified throughout C20 by the handsome vesica-shaped badge, or ’seal’, shown above, which was designed by the noted scholar W.G. Collingwood, once John Ruskin’s secretary, and a dominant figure of the Society through the first 35 years of the century. It came into use in 1901.

Everything about the seal’s layout and lettering has significance and the seal in general is clearly highly characteristic of the era in which it was produced. However, an object which is ’dated’ (in that special sense) can lose impact and efficiency as an emblem in times when attitudes have changed; and so it was in this case.....

At the end of C20, the seal was replaced by a simpler ’logo’, designed by the then CWAAS General Editor, J.P.D. Ball. It appeared first on Newsletter No. 36 (Spring 2001); then later that year it graced the cover of the initial volume of the third series of Transactions. The stated (and true) cause of the replacement of the seal was the difficulty of downloading it electronically; but in addition it was felt in some quarters that the seal’s message was out of date and no longer appropriate. What follows will demonstrate this.

Description of the seal

The whole emblem is a tall oval in shape, bearing a design within the field, and lettering round the margin. This format immediately reminds a viewer of medieval seals, particularly those of monasteries. By contrast, however, the scene itself has pre-Raphaelite features, though there is no indication of a definite date.

In the background, placed centrally, is a pillar which separates two cusped pointed arches bearing trefoils on their cusps. The spandrel between them is pierced by a quatrefoil opening, again with trefoils on the cusps. This makes a clear reference to medieval and ecclesiastical studies.

In front of this architectural background are two figures, one male, one female, both young.

The male is dressed in a loose-fitting shirt, knee-length breeches and, apparently, clogs, and he is using a long-handled spade to unearth a Roman altar. This, significantly, bears the inscription DISCIPV/LINAE. It is undoubtedly modelled on the altar found in or before 1791 at Castlesteads Roman fort in former Cumberland, and dedicated to the Discipline of the Emperor(s). (The inscription is recorded as no.1978 in Roman Inscriptions of Britain, where the editors explain that the original had been altered in detail in Roman times.)

The female is dressed in a full-length robe; her head, neck, arms and feet are bare; her hair is drawn up into a bun. She is seated on a carved stone cross, which, like the altar, has a real prototype, in this case the cross still standing in the churchyard by the Eden at Addingham. Here we have a reference to Collingwood’s great studies of pre-Conquest sculpture, which were then in their infancy.

Between the girl’s right foot and the altar is a flagon, vaguely Roman in shape, which rests on two objects which look like building stones. The girl steadies, on her left knee, a large open folio in which she is recording, with a quill pen, the youth’s discovery. Once again the significance of what is presented is clear. However, the general message concerning the role of the girl is one which today we might well describe as ’sexist’.

Surrounding the whole design is the Society’s title, written in a version of a Lombardic alphabet which makes no distinction between capitals and lower case lettering. Each pair of words is separated by a semi-colon; ’and’ is written in full for ’Cumberland and Westmorland’, but represented by an ampersand in ’Antiquarian & Archaeological’.

There is no obvious reference to prehistory in the emblems which the seal depicts, which is remarkable because by the date of the seal’s design CWAAS had carried out extensive studies of prehistoric sites and artifacts in Cumberland and Westmorland.

BJN Edwards

The Twenty First Century Logo

Twenty First Century Logo

Much-loved though Collingwood’s badge design was, the increasing use of the computer highlighted that it had drawbacks, the chief being that it took a long time to download. A new design was therefore sought.

Pat Ball, the General Editor of the Society’s substantial involvement in publishing, produced a number of designs from which the logo illustrated above was adopted. ’Logo’ was a new word, in a different age, a word to be used in the context which was revolutionising the Society’s contacts, communications and its services to its members: the Society’s website.

The design in its clarity and simplicity still expresses in symbolic form things close to the heart of Society members. The pillars tell that the Society is well established; its members still focus on things ecclesiastical, antiquarian and archaeological; and the gateway formed by the pillars and arch looks to what is beyond - an invitation to the future. The form of the name emphasises the two main initials by which the Society is affectionately known among those who belong.

The new and stylish logo was first used in the masthead of Newsletter Number 36, published in Spring 2001. It graces the cover of Transactions and the spines of our publications.