The village of Kirkoswald lays about ten miles North of Penrith, and possesses a castle, a huge moated enclosure below the church and the remains of a fortified pele tower built into a building known today as Kirkoswald College. The church sits on the Southern tip of the village, literally two hundred yards to the West of the castle and overlooks the worn remains of a huge moated enclosure. This enclosure was probably the pre-cursor to the castle, and consists of at least four ditches separated by wide banks, culminating in an enclosure at the summit of the mound it sits on.
As you approach the chancel from the nave, the two pillar bases are Norman, dating from the 12th century. There are also four Norman (12th century) pillars separating North and South aisles from the nave. It is likely that there was a church of some order on this site well before the 12th century building.
The grade II listed church is predominantly a 13th century structure. The walls of the South aisle and the West walls of the nave all date from this time, whilst the chancel is of the 16th century. The North aisle dates from much later but has a 16th century window set in the North wall.
View of the interior of the church looking towards the West end
The fact that the dedication of this church is to St Oswald, probably indicates a Saxon church stood here. The first mention of the church however, is in records dating back to 1246. In 1523, the church was made into a college for twelve secular priests under a provost, much the same as St Andrews of Greystoke. The Reformation in 1547\48 saw the end of the college after only 25 years in operation.