Bowes village is 290 meters (950 feet) above sea level on the A66 trans-Pennine road. In your walk through the village, you are joining the ranks of countless previous visitors, including Mesolithic hunters, Bronze and Iron Age farmers, invading Romans, pillaging Vikings, raiding Scots and stage-coach travellers. No doubt the Roman general Petillius Cerialls passed through while campaigning in the north as did the Norse King, Eric Bloodaxe prior to his assassination on Stainmore. More recent famous visitors have included JMW Turner, the English landscape artist who visited in 1816, and Charles Dickens collecting material for his novel Nicholas Nickelby in 1838.
There is no evidence of a village here before the establishment of the Roman fort in the late first century AD. The purpose of the fort was to guard the eastern end of the Roman road across the Stainmore Pass. Its presence attracted settlers, encouraged trade and boosted farming. Roman occupation continued until at least the end of the fourth century AD. During this period a civil settlement grew outside the fort, as excavations in the village have shown.
The dual role of guardian of the pass and agricultural center was perpetuated with the establishment of the Norman castle on the site of the Roman fort and further development of farming activities. During the Middle Ages the weekly market provided a focus for the local economy and agriculture continued as the principal industry around Bowes village.
In the 18th century mining of lead, coal and copper flourished. This provided work for the villagers, many of whom travelled long distances on foot to reach particular mines. A further development was the proliferation of private schools that developed in Yorkshire during the 18th century. Several of these schools operated in the village and played an important part in the local economy. The schools suffered a death blow at the hands of Charles Dickens. The present Bowes Hutchinson CE Aided School is the only survivor from those times in the parish.