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.

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