The Northumbrian Frontier: At the Edge of an Early Medieval Kingship

This project focuses on the kingdom of Northumbria: it was the foremost polity in existence on the island of Great Britain between 500–700 CE. Expanding from a fortified hill on the ocean, Northumbria grew into the valleys and mountains of its hinterland. Bolstered by the church, the kingdom maintained its power well, flourishing in the arts and literature. Its power in that time extended as far south as the Thames valley, and as far north as Scotland.

The Yorkshire Dales, a Northumbrian heartland. Image credit Wikimedia.

This project seeks to uncover the nature of Northumbria’s power by looking at its frontiers. How was Northumbria’s influence—political, social, ecclesiastical—felt at its boundaries with other kingdoms and peoples? To explore Northumbria at its edge, varied languages and peoples will enrich the Northumbrian prose record. Included are Mercian charters, Picts sculpture, Britannic verse, and Irish annals. At its conclusion, the research should add to discussions of frontier studies’ viability in the medieval period and illuminate the impact of the Northumbrian imposition on England.


  1. coolrob831 says:

    This is a super cool idea! Irad Malkin talked about the “middle ground” concept and how different empires and civilizations meet, interact, and coexist across their borders. I’d be very interested to see how an empire with such influence across the British Isles gained and kept their power, and eventually lost it. How many other civilizations were actually living on the Isles at the same time as the Northumbrians, and how many did they interact with across in to the European mainland? I’m very interested to see what you find out!

Speak Your Mind