I am beginning my pilgrimage around Cumbria, looking for sites Aldred might have visited or known. Perhaps he lived there at one point or another, before signing up at Chester-le-Street circa 950 in the Lindisfarne Gospel‘s gloss and colophon. Or perhaps he traveled in Cumbria with his bishop, visiting religious estates still in their purview (Carlisle, for example).
However, I am finding the history of Cumbria in the tenth century quite daunting, even more confusing than Northumbria in this period, although Esmeralda and Senchus blog sites are encouraging me to persist. The main problem for both Northumbria and Cumbria in the early part of the tenth century is the profusion and confusion of competing rulers–Scottish, Northumbrian, West Saxon, vikings from different directions–and the fluid nature of ethnic affiliations (British, Pictish, Saxon, Irish, Scandinavian) evident in place names and styles of art.
So while I am still working through the timeline for the tenth century players in Cumbria (finding Tim Clarkson’s Men of the North and Richard Bailey’s Viking Age Sculpture very useful), I started examining the landscape via Google and created a map (click to see it full size).
My first point of entry was Workington because this is the site on the Derwent from which Cuthbert’s body was launched on the aborted attempt to take him to Ireland after leaving Lindisfarne to the vikings and “wandering” for seven years (875-883). Aldred might very well have visited the church of St. Michael on the estuary, although clearly much modern land-filling has changed the shoreline.
I am also looking for a likely village site where Aldred might have lived or served, one that might have suffered a viking raid. The Eden valley running southeast of Carlisle is looking promising. Appleby that I marked on the map is interesting because place names show the vikings taking less “attractive” land on the south side, versus Anglian place names on the better, and earlier developed, north side (Clarkson, pp. 38-39, citing Fellows Jensen).
To get Aldred to and around in Cumbria, I need to overlay the Roman roads. While it seems obvious to run Aldred along Hadrian’s Wall along the military road, if only to see the Ruthwell and Bewcastle crosses, I am fascinated by St. Bee’s and want to work something in there.
Where to begin….
Clarkson, Tim. The Men of the North: The Britons of Southern Scotland. Edinburgh: John Donald, 2010.
Bailey, Richard N. Viking Age Sculpture in Northern Britain. London: Collins, 1980.