Full text: Grenzen und Grenzregionen

In the west the linguistic situation was much more complex, for the historical 
background was made up of a mixture of P-Celtic speakers persisting from the old 
kingdom of Cumbria, Old English speakers who had first settled west of the 
Pennines as early as the seventh century, and a double dose of Scandinavian 
speakers - Danes pushing north-westward from Yorkshire and Norwegians 
penetrating eastward up the Solway Firth (itself a purely Norse place-name), many 
of whom must have spent a considerable time or even have been bom and brought 
up in a strongly Gaelic (i.e. Q-Celtic) speaking region, most probably the Western 
Isles of Scotland28. It would therefore be rash to assert that there was any linguistic 
uniformity on the West March in the earlier middle ages, yet it is certain that the 
Border itself, the political line running from the upper Solway into the River Esk 
and following that stream to the confluence of the Kershope Bum (whence it ran 
up the Kershope to reach and then follow the Cheviot watershed), marked no 
linguistic division. The melting pot of languages was as much a feature of Scottish 
Dumfries-shire as of English Cumberland29. Moreover, the evidence seems 
convincing that an almost common form of Middle English speech, doubtless 
possessing a strong Scandinavian element, was coming into general use in the 
thirteenth century in northern Cumberland and eastern Dumfries-shire. 
From the standpoint of social and political organisation it must be doubted whether 
the Anglo-Scottish Border marked any significant divide for the first three and a 
half centuries of its existence. North and south the underlying structure consisted 
of multiple estates, usually called 'shires' (especially on the east side of the 
country), which were derived from the manner in which royal or princely lordship 
had been exercised in Dark Age times and indeed probably since an even earlier 
period. Upon this structure a military feudal organisation had been superimposed 
by the monarchy, from c, 1090 in northern England and from c. 1110 in southern 
Scotland. The lordships or baronies which were created by this imposed feudal 
order do not seem to have been significantly different in England and Scotland, at 
least before the fourteenth century30. In both kingdoms there were 'anomalies', e.g. 
in England the remarkable lordship or liberty of Tynedale, the valleys of North and 
South Tyne, which was scarcely tamed into normality by being called the 'manor of 
Wark' by English royal clerks in the later thirteenth century31; or the archbishop of 
York's powerful liberty of Hexhamshire, centred upon the ancient church of Saint 
Wilfred (674)32. Comparably in Scotland the prior of Durham's liberty of 
28 Fellows-Jensen, G., Scandinavian Settlement Names in the North West (Copenhagen, 1985); 
Armstrong, A.M., The Place-Names of Cumberland (English Place-Name Society, 1950-52). 
Fellows-Jensen, G., Scandinavian Settlement Names in the North West, 307-321. 
30 Barrow, G.W.S., "Northern English Society in the early middle ages", in; Northern History 4 (1969), 
especially pp. 10-12, 18-20; Barrow, Kingdom of the Scots, chap. 1; Bartlett and Mackay, Medieval 
Frontier Societies, 9-12, 14-16. 
31 A History of Northumberland (15 vols., Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland County History 
Committee), XV (ed. Dodds, M.H., 1940), 155-298; Stevenson, J., Documents Illustrative of the 
History of Scotland (2 vols., Edinburgh, 1870), I, 28-9, 37, 59 etc. 
32 A History of Northumberland, III (ed. Hinds, A.B., 1896). 
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