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dumfries-1920/04-025

Transcription

INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS IN DUMFRIESSHIRE.

Early in the 9th century the line of Anglian bishops in Whithorn ceased, and
there is a blank but probably anarchic time in the south-west, ¹ till the striped sails
of the Northmen rose against the sunset, bringing no peace but a sharper sword.
In 870 Alcluyd fell after a siege of four months by Danes and Norse from Ireland.
Five years later Halfdan with his Danes traversed the country into Northumbria,
and is recorded to have wasted the "Strathclyde Welsh," ² or "Strathclydians," ³
or, as in a third place and for the first time, the "Cumbri." ⁴ This was an enterprise
of Danes from Ireland, and does not seem to have been more than a foray of ex-
ceptional destructiveness. Permanent settlement was the work of the Norse bear-
ing elements of Irish culture. Tinwald (Thing-völlr), "field of the meeting," a short
way north-east of Dumfries, seems to have been, as its name suggests, the centre
of local Norse control. The first serious settlement would be about the year 880,
which date would apply also to the settlements in Cumberland. For the Norse as
for the Britons the land north and south of the Solway was all one. So much is
made clear by the place-names. Certain of these are identical on both sides of the
firth, e.g. Eskdale (or Askdale=Ashdale), Dalton, Brydekirk, Ousby (Oseby), Canonbie,
etc.; others have identical elements, as in the various compounds with thwaite
("clearing" or "sloping pasture") and by ("settlement") and in Smailholm (smali,
small cattle: cf. Cumberland "Smallthwaite"), Closeburn (Kil-Osbjörn), the old
Butterthuate or Butterquhat (cf. Buttermere), Langholm etc. Many names belong,
however, not to the early settlement but to later times when the latter part of the
compound was an established local form, e.g. Lockerby (1198 Locardebi) registers
the personal name Locard introduced to Scotland in the 12th century (cf. p. xxiv.).
Fell, beck, and gill names, which also occur in Cumberland and Westmorland, occur
here as far north as Moffat. Applegarth may be compared with Appleby in
Westmorland and Calgarth (i.e. "calf-enclosure") at Windermere.
The Dumfriesshire Norse, equally with their British neighbours, might be
expected to regard unfavourably the imperial activities of the expanding West Saxon
kingdom, and Owen, King of the Cumbrians, is one of the kings allied against
Athelstan on the occasion of his great victory at Brunanburgh in 937.⁵ This
alliance was in contempt of the arrangement of thirteen years earlier, when the
Strathclyde Welsh accepted Edward, the elder brother of Athelstan, as their lord.⁶
Moreover, it was to continue a troublesome district from the English point of view.
Its mixture of British and Norse blood did not render it more amenable to outside
guidance. Athelstan's brother Edmund in 946 subjected Strathclyde to another
wasting, and finally handed over the kingdom to Malcolm I. of Scotland on condi-
tion of co-operation by land and sea. Yet in 1018 we again hear of the death of a
king of Strathclyde, the last, as it happened, for Malcolm II. of Scotland now placed
on the vacant seat his son Duncan, who was to be his own successor. So
Strathclyde merges at last into the wider realm of Scotland.
Since the beginning of the 10th century, when the royal line of Alba had already
supplied an occupant for the throne, Scottish permeation and influence had been
growing. Its final outcome was the obliteration not only of the independence of

1Cf. p. xxiv.
2 "Stræcled-Walas," A.S. Chronicle.
3 "Stratcluttenses," Asser (late 9th century), De Rebus Gestis Ælfridi.
4 Ethelwerd (late 10th century), Chronica, bk. iv., in Monumenta Historica Brit., p. 515.
5 A plea has been made for the identification of Brunanburgh with the hill of Birrenswark. See
Scot. Hist. Rev., vol. vii. (1909), pp. 37-55.
6 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Florence of Worcester makes it 921.

-- xxiii

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