In Border Places

What is the Old North?

the old north - north britain

The Old North was an ancient Celtic kingdom that stretched across northern England and into Scotland. Its inhabitants were called Britons, or Brythons in Welsh, speaking a Brythonic language that may have evolved into Cumbric. The Old North was also part of what’s known as the Yr Hen Ogledd – “the old north” in Welsh. There were two sub-kingdoms in the south and a third sub-kingdom to the north known as Gododdin, based around Edinburgh.

Gododdin may have been the most influential part of the Old North, and it was ruled over by a single king in Dumbarton Rock known as Mynyddawg Mwynfawr who waged successful wars against expanding Irish settlers driving them back to their own country creating the Kingdom of Strathclyde under his son Dyfnwal Dyfnwal inherited his father’s throne at Dumbarton Rock becoming arguably most powerful all northern kings

One of the most notable features of the Hen Ogledd was its system of kingdoms and chieftains. These small, independent states were often in conflict with each other, but they also formed alliances and traded with one another. The most powerful kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd were Rheged, Elmet, and Strathclyde.

The people of the Hen Ogledd were skilled craftsmen and traders. They were known for their metalworking, particularly the production of high-quality swords and other weapons. They also traded with other regions, including Ireland and continental Europe.

Despite its cultural and economic importance, the Hen Ogledd was eventually absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and the Kingdom of Scotland. Today, the legacy of the Hen Ogledd can still be seen in the place names, folklore, and archaeology of the region.

Why Explore the Old North?

My interest in the Old North came from researching my family’s ancestry and history. My Grandmother was born in Aberdeen but her family came from North Cumbria and before that the Debatable Lands of the Scottish Borders. On my Grandfather’s side, he was Scottish / Irish Templeton, with his lineage going back to Alwinton on the English side of the Border. Over the last few years I have researched my family tree of Littles, Wilsons, Carruthers and Armstrongs – and if you have any knowledge of Border history, you’ll recognise that they were all Border Reiver families.

So Extravager is me researching and sharing with you my interest in the area of the ‘Old North’ – which also perfectly encapsulates my own history and ancestry, I may wander beyond the limits of the Old North, but it will only be a slight wander.

What is Extravager?

Stravaiging the Old North is the clue. Stravaiging or to Stravaig, is to wander around aimlessly or in Scots to wander. claims in the 19th century it was believed “perhaps a variant of obsolete extravage, from Medieval Latin extrāvagārī, from vagārī to wander” – so Extravager means wanderer.

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