Personal research has shown that there was much
fluidity when using the epithet 'Cumbria'.
The territory was ruled at various times by the
Brigantes-descended Romano-British, the Angles, the Scottish, and
the English. Some northern British rulers are referred to as kings
Strathclyde, whilst others are referred to as kings of Cumbria.
However, there seems little doubt that Strathclyde,
land of the Cumbrians, Cumberland, and Strathclyde-Cumbria are all
one and the same place. There are several conclusions which can be
reached when studying the available data, along with one or two
- South Rheged fell to Ęthelfrith of Bernicia
- Bernicia merged with Deira in 655 and
Rienmelth ferch Royth of the royal House of Rheged married Oswy,
the first king of a united Northumbria. This, in effect, drove a
wedge of Anglo-Saxon territory between the Strathclyde Welsh and
- Once the Vikings had taken Northumbria and
the old kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira were separated again, the
Strathclyde Welsh found a new kinship.
- However, the English King Edmund (940-946)
detached Strathclyde from Norse loyalties in 945, and granted it
to Malcolm, king of Scotland, as a vassal state; although in
reality Strathclyde had been dependent upon Scotland since 870.
- Later kings of Strathclyde secured control
of Cumberland (and Westmoreland), possibly encouraged by the
Bernicians, preferring the protection and patronage of a
well-established Christian neighbour to that of Scandinavian
- There is a smattering of dedications to St
Kentigern and a few other British place names in a region which,
for three centuries, had been Northumbrian (ie. Anglo-Saxon).
- Constantine II of Scotland granted
Strathclyde-Cumbria to Owen II in 925. From that point on it would
appear that the two royal houses were closely connected; kings of
Strathclyde often progressing to the senior crown (Indulf, Dubh,
- Scottish kingship and succession was very
complex and it would appear that Strathclyde's succession had become
part of this complexity.
- A further complication arises when one
realises that it is entirely possible that Strathclyde's
sovereignty extended over Cumberland and Westmoreland for only short
- It would appear that Strathclyde proper lay
to the north of the Solway. After the Battle of Brunanburh (937),
Strathclyde could well have abandoned to England all land south of
the Solway. Whether this supposition is true or not, the harrying
in 945 of this area by the Anglo-Saxons, and its being commended
to the Scottish king, make it clear that it was sometimes called
Strathclyde, sometimes Cumbria.
- The supposed existence of two kingdoms would
depend only on the two names and the assumption that Cumbria must
lie south of the Solway.
- A great deal of twelfth century evidence
Although probably 'improved' by later generations - the
Victorians were notorious for such works - the cairn at
Dunmail Raise supposedly marks the burial location of
King Dunmail (Donald II) of Strathclyde)
The Sub-Kingdoms of Gwynedd
The Welsh Explorers
RULERS OF CUMBRIA:
Tribe of the Brigantes
Bernicia & Northumbria
Cumbria: The Age of Kings
Map: England & Wales AD 900-950
The Viking Kingdom of York
One can safely deduce that Strathclyde-Cumbria was one kingdom
even if this kingdom did not always control the entirety of its
From 945 it was a kingdom which was closely
allied to Scotland, first as a tributary and later through
kinship. It is also accepted that dependence upon Scotland
commenced around 870, when the power of the Strathclyde Britons
was broken by the Vikings.