dumfries-1920/04-024

Transcription

HISTORICAL MONUMENTS (SCOTLAND) COMMISSION.

Kentigern and Rydderch both died in the same year, 601, after which the
records of the northern Britons again become scrappy and rare. In 613 the battle
of Chester marks the piercing of the British line by the Northumbrian Angles, and
the northern Britons are definitely dissociated from those in Wales. The farthest
limit of the northern section was the River Derwent in northern Lancashire, which
down to the 19th century formed the boundary between the bishoprics of Carlisle and
Chester. But in the history of this province boundaries are uncertain. Rydderch
seems to have carved out a kingdom based on Alcluyd, and his control certainly
extended to the Solway, and perhaps beyond. References to the Rerecross on
Stanemoor, now on the boundary between York and Westmorland, suggest that
here once ran the line between Cumbria and Northumbria. ¹ But we do not hear
of a particular territorial name till we reach a reference to Strathclyde (Stratha-
Cluaidhe) in the Annals of Ulster under 873, and another to the people, two years
later, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Thereafter Srathclyde is generally used for
this variable kingdom.
The fortunes of the portion later known as Dumfries cannot, of course, be
separated from those of the kingdom as a whole, but certain occurrences have more
definite bearing upon that quarter. From the reign of Oswald of Northumbria
(634-642), through that of Oswy, and down to the defeat and death of Ecgfrith at
the hands of the revolting Picts in the battle of Dunnichen, 685, the Britons were
subject to the Northumbrian kingdom. As kings of Alcluyd are nevertheless also
mentioned during this time, ² it may be taken that their status was that of vassals, and
that the subjection of the people amounted to the payment of a yearly tribute, as in
the case of the Picts and Scots. ³ Civil supremacy, however, again as in the Pictish
case, would bring with it ecclesiastical control, and this epoch of Northumbrian
lordship, extending to about half a century, has been fixed upon as one of the possible
occasions on which a cross inscribed with a Northumbrian poem in runes might be
erected at Ruthwell (see Appendix).
The Northumbrian disaster at Dunnichen restored to "some part" of the
Britons their liberty. ⁴ As we find that the Anglian hold continues on the west side,
since in 696 Cunningham (Ayrshire) is reckoned Northumbrian, ⁵ while in 731 the
Anglian bishopric of Candida Casa, "White House," or Whithorn in Galloway,
being in the province of the Bernicians, ⁶ has just been constituted, ⁷ we infer that
the base for this and later advances in the west must have been the British lands
south of the Solway, that the Britons freed by Dunnichen were therefore north
of that firth, that Dumfriesshire, and particularly Nithsdale, afforded the approach
to Cunningham, to Edbert's acquisition of Kyle (Cyil) in 750, ⁸ and the attack by that
monarch and the Picts on "Alcwith" or Alcluyd in 756, when the Britons were
reduced to terms and Edbert's army perished (interiit) on the return, ⁹ that there-
fore the free Britons were those of the Clyde valley, and that Northumbrian dominion
on the west and south thus particularised them as the "Strathclyde Welsh," which
name appears on record in the following century.

1 Cf. reference to boundaries of old Scottish kingdom in Fordun, Chronica Gentis Scotorum, bk. iii.
cap. ii., de mora lapidea, "from stone-moor." Modern forms: Rey Cross, Stainmore.
2 e.g. the Annals of Ulster give in 642 "Hoan" (Ewen), King of the Britons, as the slayer of Donald
Brec, and in 657 the death of Gureit, King of Alcluyd.
3 Bede, ii. cap. 5.
4 Ibid., iv. 26.
5 Ibid., v. 12.
6 Ibid., iii. 4.
7 Ibid., v. 23.
8 Chronicon, Bede, ed. Stevenson, Eng. Hist. Soc.
9 Symeon of Durham, R.S., ii. pp. 40-41.

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