Truth, lies and the antiquarian print in 1860s Cumbria

As we’re in an antiquarian mood (see previous post), I present for your delectation some prints from my collection. None of them are dated but I am given to believe that they are all around the 1860s-1870s-mark.

Workington

Workington

However: take a look at this, my latest, print of Workington, land of my ancestors. The harbour’s there, and the artist has added a few discreet-yet-picturesque smoking chimneys… but what’s with the mountains? Did the artist travel to Continue reading

Advertisements

Owain map Urien, King of Cumbria c.590-597CE

The name ‘Owain’ resonates in Cumbria, especially in the Eden Valley. If you ask someone, they might mention that he was a great warrior. They’ll say that they think there’s a connection to King Arthur, and that he’s buried at the Giant’s Grave in Penrith (although the evidence leans towards it being the grave of a different Owain1).

In reality, like all these early medieval kings, facts are had to come by. Owain was the son of the famous Urien of Rheged, and he inherited his father’s kingdom, and his father’s wars. Continue reading

Dunmail, last King of Cumbria – 945CE

Dunmail Raise. Yes, the pile of stones.

Dunmail Raise. Yes, the pile of stones.

It’s remarkable that some pivotal events and figures in history are so little known. Oddly enough, everyone in Cumbria thinks they know about Dunmail. There’s the shopping centre in Workington; a Dunmail Close and a Dunmail Crescent; a guest house; a fantasy book character; until its recent sad demise, a rather tasty beer; and a brand of mattress. Some people might even mention Dunmail Raise, which is closer to the mark.

Dunmail Raise is a pile of stones in the middle of the road between Grasmere and Thirlmere. Not that long ago it was on the dividing line between the old counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, and had a wall over the top of it. There are no carvings, or fencing, or English Heritage signs: it’s just an unremarkable-looking heap. And yet, when the mountain pass was widened not all that long ago, the site’s ancient reputation ensured that the pile of stones was largely left alone. This is startling when you consider that similar road-widening efforts have led to the removal of stone circles and standing stones. Continue reading

Owain and the Battle of Brunanburh, 937CE

Giant's Grave, Penrith copyright DMcIlmoyleI find it hard to believe that this date, 937CE, isn’t burned on all our memories as a pivotal point in English, and especially Cumbrian, history. It really should be, especially for those of us who live in the north. The battle took place not in Cumbria but at a place called Brunanburh. No one’s sure exactly where this was, but the odds are that it was Bromborough on the Wirral. This was at the old border between the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria, so this makes sense. Continue reading