You must try the Newcastle...
You must try the Newcastle Brown Ale.
The Kingdom of Northumberland is now more often known as 'The North of England' and the Northymbrish as the Northern English. Yet it is a land as different from Southern England as it is from Scotland or Ireland.
Do not confuse the Kingdom of Northumberland with today's County of Northumberland which is just a small part of Northumberland itself; an accident of history.
Known in Latin as Brigantia or Northumbria under powerful rulers it once stretched across central Britain from the Humber (whence its name) to the Firth of Forth and from coast to coast The Earliest Times - Brigantia
In the earliest times the British Isles were inhabited by closely related celtic peoples speaking dialects of British and Gaelic. Most of these people were organised in small tribal states. However across the central areas of Britain from the Scottish borders in the North as far south as Derbyshire lay the large state of Brigantia - the ancestor of the Kingdom of Northumberland.
Brigantia was named after the Goddess Brigant, who was worshipped throughout the British Isles and has been christianized as St. Bridget.
The Roman Occupation
The Italians invaded Britain in 43AD and in a bitter campaign defeated most of Britain, massacring the British druidic priesthood in 61AD.
At this time Brigantia was ruled by King Venutius andt his treacherous wife Queen Cartimandua.
Queen Cartimandua formed an alliance with the Romans and in 51 AD handed over Caratacusin chains to the Romans. Caratacus (immortalised in British Legend as Craddog or Sir Carradock), was the leading British war leader against of the Romans.
This was more than a northerner could stand and in 71 AD King Venutius raised an army against Cartimandua. Cartimandua was rescued by the Romans who defeated Venutius. So began the Roman occupation of Brigantia.
The Romans built a large city at York and divided the northern areas of Brigantia by a wall (Hadrian's Wall) running from Newcastle to Carlisle.
Old King Cole
Italian power collapsed in the early fifth century and most soldiers were pulled out of Britain to protect Rome. At this time most of the population spoke British (Welsh) but already bands of warriors were adopting that mixture of German, Welsh and Latin that was to become English
Coel Hen (Cole the Old) was King of the Scottish Lowlands, or possibly the last Roman general in the North. When the Italians left he became King over much of Northern and Central Britain. [note g1]
Many legends link King Arthur with the west country, but just as many link him with the north. Malory in his Morte d'Arthur says he held his court at Carlisle on the Wall. [notes h]
Legend claims that Arthur came from Pendragon Castle in Mallerstang; that he was trained in soldiery in a warrior school on the Wall led by a the priestess Nimue (the Lady of the Lake) possibly at Broomlee Lough on the Cawle Burn from where he received his famous sword excalibur (ex Caliburno) and returned it when he died [notes i1]; that together with his warrior colleagues Sir Bedevere (Bedwyr from Glamorgan) and Sir Key (Caius) he rescued the daughter of the evil giant of Ysbaddaden (Spade Adam); and that he defeated his enemies in a number of battles three of which have been located near the River Glen in North Northumberland. [notes f, g2]
He was of course famous for his resounding defeat of the Saxons in the South of England (possibly at Bath) which ensured that Britain was not overrun by Saxons and that when in future centuries English speaking states flourished they were a fusion of celtic and saxon traditions. notes [f,g]
Arthur's base is located either at Sewingshields[notes i2] on the Wall or at Camelot (the name appears in Latin as Camulodunum or fort of the war god Camulos). In the North at least two places probably bore the name Camulodunum: Black Hambledon or Slack in West Yorkshire which had been the southern capital of Brigantia and possibly Hambleton Hill in North Northumberland, just a mile from Yeavering Bell near the site of three of King Arthur's battles and the future stronghold of Northumberland.
The greatest place to be called Camulodunum was Colchester, the official capital of Britain in Roman times and probably still regarded as such in King Arthur's time! [notes g3]
The Death of King Arthur
King Arthur was killed by Modred, King of Carlisle at the battle of Camlaun in 537 AD (Camboglanna or Birdoswald on the Wall) [note f1, g4] close to where he had led most of his life. His friend Bedevere took his sword back to the Caleburn and threw it in [notes i1]. Legend says that he was buried in Ynys Afallon - the Isle of Apples.
What is more natural than that he was carried away on a bier along the Maiden Way, that ancient highway that leads south from Birdoswald towards Pendragon Castle, and that where it crosses the River Eden at Appleby - the Town of Apples - that his bier was left to drift down the river to the everbeckoning sea!
The Earliest Poets
After the death of Arthur Northumberland became a land of small states; amongst the princes at the time was Galahad of Dungwarry (Bamburgh on the Northumberland Coast), Ellifer and Peredur (Perceval) of York and greatest of all Urien of Rheged.
In 573 AD the battle of Arthuret (Arfdyredd) near Carlisle was fought [notes f1]. On one side was virtually every Prince in the North, on the other Carwinley, the last druidic state in the North. Carwinley was defeated and its druid, Myrddin (Merlin) fled before the Christian bishop St Mungo. [notes j]
Myrddin, an outcast in the woods, wrote the first British litrterature (in Welsh) and was followed by two other Northymbrish poets Taliesin and Aeurin.
Although only a few words of Myrddin's survive twelve poems of Taliesin, bard at the Court of King Urien, do including 'Gwaith Gwenystrad' ('the Battle of Wensleydale') and 'Ysbail Taliesin'('the Spoils of Taliesin'). [Note a]
After 573 AD the princelets of the North were slowly defeated by the Kings of Berneich (based at Din Guaire or Bamburgh). These kings had adopted the English language and in 603 King Ethelfrith the Artful conquered Deur (York and East Yorkshire) and became King of a reunited land from the Humber to the Firth of Forth renamed in English as Northumberland [notes f,g5]
He was followed by King Edwin (Saint Edwin) who extended the bounds of Northumberland to their greatest extent. re-established christianity and founded York Minster. His colours form the royal standard of Northumberland.
He introduced an age of peace and learning that lasted for two hundred years. This is the age of Saint Cuthbert, Saint Alcuin and many more saints.
The history of this period was written by the Venerable Bede 731 AD whose remains can be found in Durham Minster along with those of St. Cuthbert [notes e]
In the ninth century the Danes attacked, pillaged and ravished Britain. In the 840's they annexed much of Southern Northumberland (nowadays known as Yorkshire) and incorporated it into the Danelaw [note b1]. The much reduced Kingdom of Northumberland became a minor backwater between teh Tees and the Forth.
In 910 the West Saxons eventually defeated the Danes south of the humber [note b2] but by then the powerful Norse Kingdom of York and Dublin had already been established. At this time the York saga was developed.
In 927 [note b3] the West Saxons under ..... defeated and annexed the Kingdom of York (the norse kings kept hold of Dublin) and the Kingdom of England was born. Whether the northern half of the Kingdom of Northumberland was annexed at the same time or later is uncertain but in 945 [note b3] the Kingdom of England yielded Cumberland to Scotland.
However by 947 King Eric Blood-Axe ruled all Northumberland until his death in 957 although both Northumberland and Scotland were then both tributary to King Athelstan of England. [note d]
By 1018 Northumberland must have been back in English control because in that year [note b4] King Edward of England yielded Edinburgh and the Borders to Scotland.
This ensured both that Northumberland would never have the strength to be a nuisance and that Scotland would become an English speaking state - at that time the major population areas of Scotland (Glasgow and Aberdeen) spoke British (Welsh or Pictish) dialects and the Ruling Classes spoke Gaelic.
Although the Southern English accepted the Norman Kings readily the North did not. 12 days before being defeated by the Normans at Hastings King Harold of Wessex had defeated a Norwegian invasion near York. The north lost no time inviting King Harald of Norway back for which they suffered 'the harrowing of the North'. Nine in every ten individuals in Yorkshire were killed by the Normans.
Norman control over the North was not complete and when Stephen took the throne of England the North stayed loyal to the Empress Matilda.
In the early twelfth century the Earldom of Northumberland was Scottish and it was not until the treaty of Durham in 1157 that the current Anglo-Scottish border was agreed. It was now that king Henry II ensured English control of the North by building his 'new castle' at Newcastle upon Tyne.
Southern Northumberland was already known as Yorkshire; in the West new counties were created: Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland; Durham County had been handed to the Church to maintain as a military buffer state (a county palatine), only the area between the Tyne and the Tweed kept the name of Northumberland.
Tudors and Stuarts
From 1489 onwards there were a number of serious uprisings in Northern England. The best known is the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536. These finished with the establishment of a separate the Council of the North (as the kingdom of Northumberland is now known).
This parliament last met in 1641, seven years before the start of the civil war.