button to main menu  Camden's Britannia, edn 1789

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Pages 169-210 are Cumberland.
Page 169:-



  Cumberland, extent
  placename, Cumberland

BEFORE Westmorland to the west lies Cumberland, the last county of England this way, being bounded on the north by Scotland, washed on the south and west by the Irish sea, and on the east joining to Northumberland above Westmorland. It takes its name from its inhabitants, who were true and genuine Britans, and in their own language called themselves Kumbri and Kambri. History informs us, that the Britans long resided here during the Saxon tyrany; and Marianus himself says the same thing, and calls this country Cumbrorum terra; not to mention the British names continually recurring as Caer-luel, Caer-dronoc, Pen-rith, Pen-rodoc &c. which plainly bespeak this, and are the strongest proof of my assertion.
The country, though it may seem colder by reason of its northern situation and rough with mountains, affords an agreeable variety to travellers. For after the swelling rocks and thickest mountains pregnant with all kinds of wild-fowl succeed verdant hills of rich pasturage, covered with flocks, and below them extensive plains yielding plenty of corn. Besides all these the sea which beats against the coast maintains innumerable shoals of excellent fish, and seems to reproach the inhabitants for their inattention to fishery.
  Irt, River

  Copeland. Duden r. Millum. Ravenglass Esk r. Hardknott near Wrinose. Irt r.
The south part of this county is called Copeland and Coupland, because it rises in pointed mountains, which the British call Kopa, or as others think Copeland for Copperland, from its rich veins of copper. In this at the sandy mouth of the Duden, which separates it from Lancashire, is Millum, a castle of the antient family of the Hodlestons; whence the shore retiring to the north presents Ravenglass, a station where, I was told, were once two Roman inscriptions. It is conveniently environed by two rivers. Some will have it to have been called antiently Aven glass or the blue river, and tell many stories about king Eveling, who had a palace here. One of these rivers is named Esk, and rises at the foot of Hard knott, a very steep mountain, on whose summit were lately discovered huge stones and foundations of a castle, to the astonishment of the beholders, it being so steep as hardly to be ascended. Higher up the little river Irt runs into the sea, in which the shell-fish having by a kind of irregular motion [a] taken in the dew, which they are extremely fond of, are impregnated, and produce pearls, or, to use the poet's phrase, baccae concheae, shell-berries, which the inhabitants, when the tide is out, search for, and our jewellers buy of the poor for a trifle, and sell again at a very great price. Of these and the like Marbodeus [b] seems to speak in that line;

Gignit & insignes antiqua Britannia baccas.
Old Britain also famous berries yields.
  St. Bees. Egremont c. Lords of Copeland.
  St Bees Head

The shore now advancing gradually to the west forms a little point, commonly called St. Bees for St. Bega's. This Bega was a devout and holy virgin of Ireland, who passed her life in solitude here, and to whose piety many miracles are ascribed, as taming a wild bull, and by her prayers covering with a great depth of snow the vallies and hill tops in the middle of summer. Scarce a mile from hence stands on a hill Egremont castle, the antient seat of William de Meschines, to whom Henry I. gave it "by the service of one knight's fee, that he should march at the king's command in the army against Wales and Scotland." He left a daughter married to William Fitz Duncan of the blood royal of Scotland, by whose daughter the estate came into the family of the Lucies. From them again by the Moltons and Fitz Walters the title of Egremont came to the Radcliffes earls of Sussex. It was however enjoyed for a considerable time by favour of Henry VI. by Thomas Percy, who had summons to parliament by the style of Thomas Percy of Egremont.
  The shore fortified. Moresby. Picts holes.
  roman inscription

Here the shore goes on a little retreating, and it appears from the ruins of walls, that wherever the landing was easy it was fortified by the Romans. For it was the extreme boundary of the Roman empire, and this coast was particularly exposed to the Scots when they spread themselves like a deluge over this island from Ireland. Here is Moresby, a little village, where, from these fortifications, we may conclude was a station for ships. Here are many traces of antiquity in the vaults and foundations, many caverns called Picts holes, many fragments of inscriptions are here dug up, one of which has the name of LVCIVS SEVERINVS ORDINATVS; another COH. VIII. I saw there this altar, lately dug up, with a small horned statue of Silvanus:


Deo Silvano
Cohors 2da Lingonum
Cui praeest
G. Pompeius M.
The following fragment was copied and transmitted to me by J. Fletcher lord of the place:

[a] Oscitatione.
[] He wrote a Latin poem on jewels and precious stones, printed at Cologne 1539. Hoffm. Lex.
gazetteer links
button -- "Copeland" -- Copeland
button -- "Cumberland" -- Cumberland
button -- "Egremont Castle" -- Egremont Castle
button -- "Irt, River" -- Irt, River
button -- "Millum Castle" -- Millom Castle
button -- "Ravenglass" -- Ravenglass
button -- (roman fort, Hardknott Pass)
button -- Gabrosentum
button -- (roman wall, Maryport)
button -- St Bees Head
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