I have been busy behind the scenes the last month or so making plans and coming up with some new ideas. This happens when I accidentally read something, it catches my interest… and then I run off on a crazy idea with it all!
The process started a few months back when I stumbled upon Yr Hen Ogleth - The Old North - which is a feature in the heroic poetry of Wales, but interestingly doesn’t relate to Wales itself. It was a collective of kingdoms spanning Stirlingshire in the north down to Lancashire in the south, and yes… incorporating Cumbria. The kingdoms were seen as broadly the same in terms of culture and language and this is something which can still be seen in the modern landscape, language and… indeed… the culture. The people of the Old North still share a lot in common, and many elements of this collective were still very much evident more recently than I had imagined. One would have thought, for instance, that the Celtic language of the ancient Britonic people would have died out with the coming of the Angles or Norse in this part of the world, but apparently it was still in use up until the 15th Century in some areas, and some words still exist in the modern dialect.
Interestingly the people where the Cymru and the language was Cumbric with the modern county of Cumbria keeping that heritage alive (along with it’s earlier constituent Cumberland), although most of the county was probably part of the Kingdom of Rheged in those times.
I started off looking at all the historical features on the OS Map of Cumbria, plotting each and every one I could find, to get an idea of what was here, and thinking of ways to link these sites and explore their histories and origin. Then I started to add in the placename evidence of the Brittonic people, the Cumbric place names as well as those earlier ones which remain shrouded in mystery… and was pretty impressed with how much is still evident.
There is a lot to do on this whole project to uncover the Cumbrians, their links to the other people of the Old North… and expand it all into building an understanding of this whole ancient region. But it is going to be fascinating… and I hope photogenic too!
What is even better is that it allows me to mix my own past as an archaeologist with my current focus on photography!
This is going to be a slow burner though, done along side and behind the scenes with other stuff as time, fitness and health allow (I am hoping that the latter two will benefit from this project, less time sitting about and more time clambering around the countryside and possibly up the odd mountain has got to help!)