The Dacre Bears are a special feature at St. Andrew’s. There are four stone statues located within the churchyard. A recently expressed archaeological opinion is that they are pre-Saxon and may originally have marked the boundaries of some pagan sacred site, however, the origin of the Bears is unknown and has been a puzzle for centuries.
In 1890, Chancellor Fergusion, a Victorian historian and one of the founders of the Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological and Antiquarian Society, studied the bears closely and thought he had solved the mystery. He said that the bears told a humorous story in four stages. Start at the bear on the left of the main path as you approach the church and progress to the next bear in an anticlockwise direction.
In the first, the bear (now sadly missing its head) is asleep holding a post with its front and hind paws.
The third bear has flexed its paw around its shoulder as is anxious to remove the animal. This is the most crudely carved of the pieces because of its complexity.
Finally, the bear has a smug, satisfied look on its face as if it has eaten the creature. This carving, the best preserved, however, suggests from the mane and the tail that it is not a bear but a lion!
What do you think?