History of Cumbria - Character

Character

Cumbria was created in 1974 from territory of the historic counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire North of the Sands and a small part of Yorkshire, but the human history of the area is ancient. The region is a country of contrasts, with its mountainous central region and famous lakes, its fertile coastal plains in the north and its gently undulating hills in the south. It is a place of rock and water, and this seems to have been the key to the area's long popularity.

In the 21st century Cumbria relies on tourism and farming as economic bases, but industry has historically also played a vital role in the area's fortunes. The region might have enjoyed far greater prosperity were it not for its politico-geographical position: its proximity to Scotland has meant that for much of its history Cumbria has been disputed between the Scots and the English. Raids from Scotland were frequent until the Acts of Union 1707 and the large area of coastline also meant vulnerability to Irish and Norse raids.

Cumbria has historically been fairly isolated. Until the coming of the railway, much of the region would have been difficult to reach and even today there are routes which make most motorists a little nervous. In the harsher winter months, some of the central valleys are occasionally cut off from the outside world. This made the area something of a refuge for dispossessed peoples, which may well account for the popular conception of Cumbria as a provincial backwater: quaint and archaic. Enclaves of Brythonic Celts remained until around the 10th century, long after much of England was essentially 'English', and the Norse retained a distinct identity well into the Middle Ages. After that Cumbria remained something of a 'no mans' land' between Scotland and England, which meant that the traditional Cumbrian identity was neither English nor Scottish.

Since the Act of Union, the border areas have become more firmly English or Scottish. Whilst Cumbrians are generally hospitable to short-term visitors, they are said to have an uncertain attitude to offcomers.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Cumbria

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