About the Seldom Seen maps

Art Gene’s ‘Seldom Seen Series’ of five maps,  was developed in partnership with Morecambe Bay Partnership and with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and Coastal Communities Fund.

The maps, which cover the whole of Morecambe Bay, stretching from Cockerham in north Lancashire to Walney in south Cumbria, have been produced through extensive consultation (meetings, special events and guided walks) with hundreds of local people, specialists and local organisations.

They cover a wide range of interests from natural history to industrial heritage and include many hidden gems - those features which local people most value about the places they live and have been kind enough to share with us.

The Seldom Seen Series of maps were researched and designed by artist Stuart Bastik who along with artist Maddi Nicholson founded Art Gene in 2002.


More about the five areas covered by the maps:

Islands of Barrow: Barrow-in-Furness gre rapidly across the Islands of Barrow taking advantage of the natural harbours between them. By 1876 Barrow had established the largest ironworks in the world, much to the disapproval of Victorian scoial reformer John Ruskin, who could see it lighting up the night sky from his home beside Lake Coniston 20 miles away.

Diversification into shipbuilding was a natural extension of iron production and building nuclear submarines remains at the heart of a coastal working town born out of the Industrial Revolution. One of the largest off-shore wind farms in world now lies off Walney Island.

The Islands of Barrow encapsulate huge contrasts - where industrial and natural histories punctuate a largely unexplored coastline with idyllic beaches and mountain backdrops.

Furness Peninsula: There are at least three distinct ‘layers’ of occupation in evidence across the Furness Peninsula. There is a particularly concentrated, though not isolated, area of prehistoric settlement extending inland from Birkrigg Common, with its concentric stone circle high above the Bay.

Much of this area and that further south towards Aldingham became the Ancient Manor of Muchland in medieval times, which also saw the growth of Furness Abbey into the second most powerful Cistercian monastery in Britain.

In 1851 Henry Schneider found rich deposits of iron ore near Roanhead which sparked an unprecedented industrial revolution across the peninsula.  It mined its way through Dalton and Lindal, and triggered the growth of shipbuilding in Barrow. It also sparked extensive extensions to the Furness Railway, which connected industrial sites, brought in coal for smelting the ore, and carried passengers across Morecambe Bay.

Cartmel Peninsula: The oldest known ‘northerner’ was found on the Cartmel Peninsula in Kents Bank Cavern - a 10,000-year-old human leg bone and lithic material (c.11000-9500 BC) was excavated in the 1990’s.

Industry has used the powerful flow of the River Leven at Backbarrow since medieval times. Corn mills were built by Furness Abbey and in the early 18th Century a charcoal-fired ironworks was built. Victorian cotton mills followed and lastly the Dolly Blue works (1895-1981) saw the end of an era.

‘Iron Mad’ Wilkinson (1728-1808) built the world‘s first iron barge and made the iron for the world’s first iron bridge. At one time he was responsible for producing an eighth of Britain’s cast iron. He built an impressive Georgian House (c.1778) beside the River Winster.

The fluke fishing tradition at nearby Flookburgh is so old that it is unclear if the village was named after the fish or the fish named after the village. Shrimps, cockles, salmon and bass are other traditional quarry still fished in smaller numbers on the once abundant Leven Estuary.

Arnside and Silverdale: This area has a rich industrial heritage based on limestone. From 1857, the railway triggered the growth of massive quarries, some of which are still active today. Lime kilns (a feature around Morecambe Bay) produced lime for use in mortar, plaster and distemper for buildings, for iron smelting at Carnforth Ironworks and for making potter y. It was also extensively spread on agricultural land to reduce soil acidity. Modern Tarmac, using bitumen and hot limestone aggregate, was invented at Trowbarrow beside a large (now disused) quarry.

The Arnside & Silverdale ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ is an extraordinary place, famous for its amazing wildlife, stunning scenery and  superb walks. The ruins of a line of three 14th century pele towers between Ar nside and Beetham are linked by ancient corpse trails, along which the dead were carried to the nearest consecrated ground at Beetham (for some parts of the Cartmel Peninsula, this would involve carrying the dead across the Kent Estuary at low tide).

Warton Crag is a beautiful spot, which is important not just for the flora and fauna that abound on its slopes, but also for the Iron Age hillfort remains which lie hidden beneath the scrub and woodland.

Morecambe and Heysham: A Roman fort was built at Lancaster in 79 AD. The present castle was developed in the 13th Century and became a notorious centre of ‘justice’; the Assizes sentenced more hangings than anywhere outside London, causing Lancaster to be known as ‘The Hanging Town’.

The area’s history is linked to the River Lune; an out port for Lancaster was established at Sunderland in the early 1700’s and is reputedly where the first bale of cotton was landed in Britain, but this port was superseded by Glasson Dock in 1779. Today Sunderland is a small intertidal community and one of three villages on the Bay still operating a traditional sustainable fishery.

Morecambe, the Bay’s only traditional resort has a rich history of entertainments and some outstanding buildings, including the recently refurbished Art Deco Midland Hotel and the glorious faded beauty of the Winter Gardens.

Heysham is best known today for its port and nuclear power stations but the old village at Heysham Head is today a relatively unexplored historic gem. St Peter’s Church and St Patrick's Chapel with its ancient rock-hewn graves (c. 800AD) are amongst the oldest ecclesiastical features in Lancashire.

Disclaimer: The contents and graphics of these maps are an artistic interpretation of Morecambe Bay. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the publisher accepts no responsibility for errors that occur within the maps. Further information and leaflets detailing specific destinations and subjects in more depth are available locally. Please note - the Seldom Seen maps are not for navigation – use an OS Map to aid accurate navigation.