Dent is a village and civil parish in Cumbria, England. It lies in Dentdale, a narrow valley on the western slopes of the Pennines within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is about 4 miles (6 km) south east of Sedbergh and about 8 miles (13 km) north east of Kirkby Lonsdale.
The parish of Dent includes the whole of Dentdale and the side valley of Deepdale. In addition to the village of Dent settlements in the parish includes the hamlets of Lenacre, Gawthrop, Cowgill and Stone House.
Dentdale is a dale or valley in the north-west of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The dale is the valley of the River Dee, but takes its name from the village of Dent. The dale runs east to west starting at Dent Head which is the location of a railway viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Line.
Dentdale was first settled in the 10th century when Norse invaders first entered the dale. The typical occupations in the dale were farming and worsted related. Several mills used the fast flowing waters of the River Dee to supply power to the mills. At least one of these was converted to the Dent Marble industry by 1810. Whilst fishing on the Dee at Dentdale in the 1840’s, William Armstrong saw a waterwheel in action, supplying power to a marble quarry. It struck Armstrong that much of the available power was being wasted and it inspired him to design a successful hydraulic engine which began the accumulation of his wealth and industrial empire.
Dentdale was originally in the Ewecross Wapentake of the West Riding of Yorkshire, but was transferred to Cumbria in 1974.
Adam Sedgwick (22 March 1785 – 27 January 1873) is celebrated in the village of Dent, having been born there. He was a Priest and Geologist, one of the founders of modern geology. He proposed the Devonian period of the geological timescale.
Sedgwick guided the young Charles Darwin in his early study of geology and continued to be on friendly terms, although he was an opponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection. In response to receiving and reading Darwin’s book, he wrote to him saying:
“If I did not think you a good tempered & truth loving man I should not tell you that… I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous — You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction—& started up a machinery as wild I think as Bishop Wilkins’s locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved. Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction?”
“There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly.”