Socio-political change in the English county of Cumbria: 400-700

Walker, Stephen Maclaren (2022). Socio-political change in the English county of Cumbria: 400-700. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis seeks to consolidate and examine the evidence for social and political change in the English county of Cumbria between 400 and 700. This date range covers the period between the end of direct Roman governance of what had long been the north-west frontier of the western Roman Empire and the end of the greatest period of expansion of the kingdom of Northumbria.

The two key questions which currently tend to be asked in studies of the post-Roman period are, firstly, the extent to which the social and political structures of the fifth century and beyond represent continuity or change from what had gone before and, secondly, how power and identity were negotiated at a regional and supra-regional level between incursive groups and the Romano-British indigenes.

This study seeks to answer those questions at a regional level through a synthesis of the archaeological, place-name and historical evidence. Contrary to established current thinking, it will be argued that a close and targeted study of the evidence calls into doubt the notion that a culturally British Cumbria was ever conquered by a culturally Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Instead, it will be argued that Cumbria remained a politically distinct area, notwithstanding one that, from the mid-seventh century, may often have been allied to, or a client of, the Northumbrian kings.

It is proposed that, notwithstanding the relative paucity of material evidence for Cumbria when compared to other parts of Britain, there is just sufficient when taken in conjunction with other evidence types to identify the cores of a relatively significant number of previously overlooked post-Roman polities across the county. These polities – or regiones, to use the terminology favoured by early medieval writers such as Bede – were resilient and formed the building blocks of the far less resilient hegemonies of the post-Roman centuries.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain


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