Dentdale, which is nine miles long, has scattered farms but only one village, Dent. The town of Sedbergh is the outlet to the west. During the 19thc, Dent ‘marble’ was produced from quarries at the head of the dale, and three kinds are used in the chancel, with and without fossils.
The church stands in the core of the compact, stone-built village. It has a west tower which was rebuilt in the 18thc, apparently occasioned by dilapidation and an earthquake (Boulton 1995, 12-13). Its plan is common in the north-west of the county, a continuous six-bay nave and chancel both with aisles, and no chancel arch – although the third piers from the east are enlarged on the inner faces and may hint at an earlier one. The building was much renewed in 1889-90 (Pevsner 1967, 177-78; Leach and Pevsner 2009, 238-9).
Piers 1 to 3 are octagonal, but the two western piers (piers 4 and 5) of the arcades are round; some of their fabric may be 12thc, but re-used. The only feature certainly relevant to the Corpus is the nave N doorway.
Dent is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, although Sedbergh is. In 1131, Dent and Sedbergh were in the deanery of Kirkby Lonsdale, in the archdeaconry of Richmond. Tentatively, it seems that the nave gained its arcades in the early 13th century, a little later than Sedbergh. At a later period, the church was given to Coverham abbey (Boulton 1995, 4-5).
The round-headed doorway must have been reset, and is blocked. It is of one order and a label. The stone is mostly a granular light grey sandstone, making a contrast with the fabric of the reddish roughly-coursed rubble wall.
The label is chamfered and plain on the inner side; on the vertical face the stones have dentation (that is, zigzag carved on two levels).
There are label-stops in the form of animal masks. These differ: that on the L has its tongue flopping between the teeth; the mask on the R is more like those seen on corbels, with teeth showing on three sides of a squareish mouth. The ears of the creatures are short and not pointed; they are at right-angles to the skull, but are slightly elongated and drawn back, conforming to the plane of the label.
|Height (along circumference) of L mask||0.14 m|
|Height (ditto) of R mask||0.16 m|
|Height of opening from ground||2.21 m|
|Label projects from wall surface||0.06 m|
|Radial width of label||0.13 m|
|Width of opening||1.205 m|
The arcades are similar: although the cylindrical columns of piers 4 and 5 recall Romanesque arcades, their stone size is large. All four piers have octagonal bases as well as octagonal capitals; their arches are pointed and chamfered.
|Octagonal bases, sides approx.||0.34 m to 0.38 m|
D. Boulton, A Thousand Ages: the Story of the Church in Dentdale, Dent 1995.
P. Leach and N. Pevsner, Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North, Yale 2009.
J. E. Morris,Yorkshire: the West Riding, London 1911, 1923.
N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding. The Buildings of England, 2nd ed., Harmondsworth 1967.
R. Wood, 'Geometric Patterns in English Romanesque Sculpture,' JBAA (154) 2001, 1-39.