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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Location of Cumbria within England
Location of Cumbria within England
Coordinates: 54°30′N 3°15′W / 54.500°N 3.250°W / 54.500; -3.250
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionNorth West England
Established1 April 1974
Established byLocal Government Act 1972
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
UK Parliament6 MPs
PoliceCumbria Constabulary
Largest cityCarlisle
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantAlexander Scott[1]
High SheriffSamantha Scott[2]
Area6,768 km2 (2,613 sq mi)
 • Rank3rd of 48
 • Rank42nd of 48
Density74/km2 (190/sq mi)

Districts of Cumbria

Cumbria (/ˈkʌmbriə/ KUM-bree-ə) is a ceremonial county in North West England. It borders the Scottish council areas of Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders to the north, Northumberland and County Durham to the east, North Yorkshire to the south-east, Lancashire to the south, and the Irish Sea to the west. Its largest settlement is the city of Carlisle.

The county is predominantly rural, with an area of 6,769 km2 (2,614 sq mi) and a population of 500,012; this makes it the third largest ceremonial county in England by area but the eighth-smallest by population. After Carlisle (74,281), the largest settlements are Barrow-in-Furness (56,745), Kendal (29,593), and Whitehaven (23,986). For local government purposes the county comprises two unitary authority areas, Westmorland and Furness and Cumberland.[5] Cumbria was created in 1974 from the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, the Furness area of Lancashire, and a small part of Yorkshire.

The interior of Cumbria contains large upland areas. The south-west contains the Lake District, a national park and UNESCO world heritage site which includes Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain,[6] and Windermere, its longest and largest lake. The Border Moors and North Pennines lie along the county's eastern border. The south-east contains the Orton Fells, Howgill Fells and part of the Yorkshire Dales, which are all within the Yorkshire Dales national park.[7] The Vale of Eden, the valley of the River Eden, runs south-east to north-west between these upland areas, and broadens into the Solway Plain near Carlisle.[8][9] The county has long coast to the west, which is bordered by a plain for most of its length. In the north-west it borders the Solway Firth, a national landscape, and to the south are the Cartmel and Furness peninsulas. East of the peninsulas, the county contains part of Arnside and Silverdale, also a national landscape.

The county contains several Neolithic monuments, such as Mayburgh Henge. The region was on the border of Roman Britain, and Hadrian's Wall runs through the north of the county. In the Early Middle Ages parts of the region successively belonged to Rheged, Northumbria, and Strathclyde, and there was also a Viking presence. It became the border between England and Scotland, and was unsettled until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. During the Industrial Revolution mining took place on the Cumberland coalfield and Barrow-in-Furness became a shipbuilding centre, but the county was not heavily industrialised and the Lake District became valued for its sublime and picturesque qualities, notably by the Lake Poets.

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The place names Cumbria and Cumberland both mean "land of the Cumbrians" and are names derived from the term that had been used by the inhabitants of the area to describe themselves. In the period c. 400 – c. 1100, it is likely that any group of people living in Britain who identified as 'Britons' called themselves by a name similar to 'Cum-ri' which means "fellow countrymen" (and has also survived in the Welsh name for Wales which is Cymru).[10] The first datable record of the place name as Cumberland is from an entry in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle for the year AD 945.[11] This record refers to a kingdom known to the Anglo Saxons as Cumberland (often also known as Strathclyde) which in the 10th century may have stretched from Loch Lomond to Leeds.[12] The first king to be unequivocally described as king of the Cumbrians is Owain ap Dyfnwal, who ruled from c. 915 – c. 937.[13]


The Castlerigg stone circle dates from the late Neolithic age and was constructed by some of the earliest inhabitants of Cumbria

Cumbria was created in April 1974 through an amalgamation of the administrative counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, to which parts of Lancashire (the area known as Lancashire North of the Sands) and of the West Riding of Yorkshire were added.[14]

During the Neolithic period the area contained an important centre of stone axe production (the so-called Langdale axe factory), products of which have been found across Great Britain.[15] During this period, stone circles and henges were built across the county, and today, Cumbria has one of the largest number of preserved field monuments in England'.[16]

While not part of the region conquered in the Romans' initial conquest of Britain in AD 43, most of modern-day Cumbria was later conquered in response to a revolt deposing the Roman-aligned ruler of the Brigantes in AD 69.[17] The Romans built a number of fortifications in the area during their occupation, the most famous being UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian's Wall which passes through northern Cumbria.[18]

At the end of the period of British history known as Roman Britain (c. AD 410) the inhabitants of Cumbria were Cumbric-speaking native Romano-Britons who were probably descendants of the Brigantes and Carvetii (sometimes considered to be a sub-tribe of the Brigantes) that the Roman Empire had conquered in about AD 85.[citation needed] Based on inscriptional evidence from the area, the Roman civitas of the Carvetii seems to have covered portions of Cumbria. The names Cumbria, Cymru (the native Welsh name for Wales), Cambria, and Cumberland are derived from the name these people gave themselves, *kombroges in Common Brittonic, which originally meant "compatriots".[19][20]

Although Cumbria was previously believed to have formed the core of the Early Middle Ages Brittonic kingdom of Rheged, more recent discoveries near Galloway appear to contradict this.[21] For the rest of the first millennium, Cumbria was contested by several entities who warred over the area, including the Brythonic Celtic Kingdom of Strathclyde and the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria. Most of modern-day Cumbria was a principality in the Kingdom of Scotland at the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and thus was excluded from the Domesday Book survey of 1086. In 1092 the region was invaded by William II and incorporated into England.[22] Nevertheless, the region was dominated by the many Anglo-Scottish Wars of the latter Middle Ages and early modern period and the associated Border Reivers who exploited the dynamic political situation of the region.[23] There were at least three sieges of Carlisle fought between England and Scotland, and two further sieges during the Jacobite risings.

After the Jacobite Risings of the 18th century, Cumbria became a more stable place and, as in the rest of Northern England, the Industrial Revolution caused a large growth in urban populations. In particular, the west coast towns of Workington, Millom and Barrow-in-Furness saw large iron and steel mills develop, with Barrow also developing a significant shipbuilding industry.[24] Kendal, Keswick and Carlisle all became mill towns, with textiles, pencils and biscuits among the products manufactured in the region. The early 19th century saw the county gain fame when the Lake Poets and other artists of the Romantic movement, such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, lived among, and were inspired by, the lakes and mountains of the region. Later, the children's writer Beatrix Potter also wrote in the region and became a major landowner, granting much of her property to the National Trust on her death.[25] In turn, the large amount of land owned by the National Trust assisted in the formation in 1951 of the Lake District National Park,[citation needed] which remains the largest National Park in England and has come to dominate the identity and economy of the county.

The historic counties shown within Cumbria
  Boundary of Cumbria
  Historic Cumberland
  Historic Westmorland
  Historic Lancashire

The Windscale fire of 10 October 1957 was the worst nuclear accident in Great Britain's history.[26]

Cumbria was created in 1974 from the traditional counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, the Cumberland County Borough of Carlisle, along with the North Lonsdale or Furness part of Lancashire, usually referred to as "Lancashire North of the Sands", (including the county borough of Barrow-in-Furness) and, from the West Riding of Yorkshire, the Sedbergh Rural District.[14] Between 1974 and 2023 it was governed by Cumbria County Council but in 2023 the county council was abolished and replaced by two new unitary authorities Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council.

On 2 June 2010, taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people and injured 11 others in a shooting spree that spanned over 24 kilometres (15 mi) along the Cumbrian coastline.[27]

Local newspapers The Westmorland Gazette and Cumberland and Westmorland Herald continue to use the name of their historic counties. Other publications, such as local government promotional material, describe the area as "Cumbria", as does the Lake District National Park Authority.


Topographic map of Cumbria

Cumbria is the most northwesterly ceremonial county of England and is mostly mountainous, with large upland areas to the south-west and east. The south-west contains the Lake District, a national park and UNESCO world heritage site which includes Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain at 978 metres (3,209 ft),[6] and Windermere, its longest and largest lake. The Border Moors and North Pennines lie along the county's eastern border. The south-east contains the Orton Fells, Howgill Fells and part of the Yorkshire Dales, which are all within the Yorkshire Dales national park.[7]

The Vale of Eden, the valley of the River Eden, runs south-east to north-west between these upland areas, and broadens into the Solway Plain near Carlisle.[8][9] The county has long coast to the west, which is bordered by a plain for most of its length. In the north-west it borders the Solway Firth, a national landscape, and to the south are the Cartmel and Furness peninsulas. East of the peninsulas, the county contains part of Arnside and Silverdale, also a national landscape. The Lancaster Canal runs from Preston into southern Cumbria and is partly in use. The Ulverston Canal which once reached to Morecambe Bay is maintained although it was closed in 1945.

Boundaries and divisions

The northernmost and southernmost points in Cumbria are just west of Deadwater, Northumberland and South Walney respectively. Kirkby Stephen (close to Tan Hill, North Yorkshire) and St Bees Head are the most easterly and westerly points of the county. The boundaries are along the Irish Sea to Morecambe Bay in the west, and along the Pennines to the east. Cumbria's northern boundary stretches from the Solway Firth from the Solway Plain eastward along the border with Scotland.

Cumbria is bordered by Northumberland, County Durham, North Yorkshire, Lancashire in England, and Dumfries and Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale in Scotland.

High Cup Nick, in the North Pennines


BAE Systems Submarine Solutions in Barrow-in-Furness has a workforce of around 12,000 people.[28]

Many large companies and organisations are based in Cumbria. The county council itself employs around 17,000 individuals, while the largest private employer in Cumbria, BAE Systems in Barrow employs around 12,000 with further job growth associated with new contracts expected, the Sellafield nuclear processing site, has a workforce of 10,000.[29] Below is a list of some of the county's largest companies and employers (excluding services such as Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria Fire and Rescue and the NHS in Cumbria), categorised by district.


The entrance to Whinlatter Forest Park
Sizergh Castle
Muncaster Castle

The largest and most widespread industry in Cumbria is tourism. The Lake District National Park alone receives some 15.8 million visitors every year.[30] Despite this, fewer than 50,000 people reside permanently within the Lake District: mostly in Ambleside, Bowness-on-Windermere, Coniston, Keswick, Gosforth, Grasmere and Windermere.[30] Over 36,000 Cumbrians are employed in the tourism industry which adds £1.1 billion a year to the county's economy. The Lake District and county as a whole attract visitors from across the UK,[30] Europe, North America and the Far East (particularly Japan).[30] The tables below show the twenty most-visited attractions in Cumbria in 2009. (Not all visitor attractions provided data to Cumbria Tourism who collated the list. Notable examples are Furness Abbey, the Lakes Aquarium and South Lakes Safari Zoo, the last of which would almost certainly rank within the top five).[31]

Rank Attraction Location Visitors
1 Windermere Lake Cruises Bowness-on-Windermere 1,313,807
2 Rheged Penrith 439,568
3 Ullswater Steamers Glenridding 348,000
4 Whinlatter Forest Park and Visitor Centre Whinlatter 252,762
5 Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Carlisle 251,808
6 Grizedale Forest Park and Visitor Centre Grizedale 175,033
7 Carlisle Cathedral Carlisle 166,141
8 Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre Windermere 135,539
9 Hill Top Hawkshead 103,682
10 Sizergh Castle Sizergh Castle 90,063
Rank Attraction Location Visitors
11 Cumberland Pencil Museum Keswick 80,100
12 Muncaster Castle Ravenglass 78,474
13 Dock Museum Barrow-in-Furness 73,239
14 The Beacon Whitehaven 71,602
15 Holker Hall Cartmel 58,060
16 Carlisle Castle Carlisle 56,957
17 Beatrix Potter Gallery Hawkshead 47,244
18 Lake District Wildlife Park[32] Bassenthwaite 45,559
19 The Homes of Football Ambleside 49,661
20 Cartmel Priory Cartmel 43,672

Economic output

GVA and GDP by local authority district in 2022[33]
District GVA (£ billions) GVA per capita (£) GDP (£ billions) GDP per capita (£)
Cumberland £6.5 £23,737 £7.5 £27,305
Westmorland and Furness £6.7 £29,546 £7.6 £33,242
Cumbria £13.3 £26,366 £15.1 £29,992



Cumbria is governed by two unitary authorities, Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council. The Cumberland unitary authority area covers the north and west of Cumbria, and Westmorland and Furness the south and east; they are named after the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, but have different boundaries.[34] Cumberland has had a Labour majority administration since the 2022 Cumberland Council election, and Westmorland and Furness has had a Liberal Democrat majority administration since the 2022 Westmorland and Furness Council election.[35][36]

Between 1974 and 2023 Cumbria was administered by Cumbria County Council and six district councils: Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden, and South Lakeland. These were abolished on 1 April 2023, when the two unitary authorities were established.[37]

The Duchy of Lancaster, the private estate of the sovereign, exercises some rights of the Crown in the County Palatine of Lancaster, which includes the Furness area of Cumbria.[38]


There are currently six parliamentary constituencies in Cumbria: Barrow and Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Penrith and the Border, Westmorland and Lonsdale, and Workington. Five were won by the Conservative Party in the 2019 United Kingdom general election, and Westmorland and Lonsdale by the Liberal Democrats.

Constituency 1983 1987 1992 1997 2001 2005 2010 2015 2017 2019
Barrow and Furness  CON  Cecil Franks  LAB  John Hutton  LAB  John Woodcock  CON  Simon Fell
Carlisle  LAB  Ronald Lewis  LAB  Eric Martlew  CON  John Stevenson
Copeland  LAB  Jack Cunningham  LAB  Jamie Reed  CON  Trudy Harrison
Penrith and The Border  CON  David Maclean  CON  Rory Stewart  CON  Neil Hudson
Westmorland and Lonsdale  CON  Michael Jopling  CON  Tim Collins  LD  Tim Farron
Workington  LAB  Dale Campbell-Savours  LAB  Tony Cunningham  LAB  Sue Hayman  CON  Mark Jenkinson
2019 General Election Results in Cumbria
Party Votes % Change from 2017 Seats Change from 2017
Conservative 143,615 52.4% Increase3.6% 5 Increase2
Labour 79,402 28.9% Decrease7.3% 0 Decrease2
Liberal Democrats 39,426 14.4% Increase2.6% 1 0
Greens 4,223 1.5% Increase0.8% 0 0
Brexit 3,867 1.4% new 0 0
Others 3,044 1.1% Increase0.7% 0 0
Total 274,313 100.0 6


Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are strongest in rural areas, and Labour is strongest in the industrial towns.[39]


The University of Cumbria's Fusehill Campus in Carlisle

Although Cumbria has a comprehensive system almost fully, there is one state grammar school in Penrith. There are 42 state secondary schools and 10 independent schools. The more rural secondary schools tend to have sixth forms (although in Barrow-in-Furness district, no schools have sixth forms due to the only sixth form college in Cumbria being located in the town) and this is the same for three schools in Allerdale and South Lakeland, and one in the other districts. Chetwynde is also the only school in Barrow to educate children from nursery all the way to year 11.

Colleges of further education in Cumbria include:

The University of Cumbria is one of the UK's newest universities, having been established in 2007. It is at present the only university in Cumbria and has campuses across the county, together with Lancaster and London.



The M6 motorway and West Coast Main Line near Grayrigg Forest

The M6 is the only motorway that runs through Cumbria. Kendal and Penrith are amongst its primary destinations. Further north it becomes the A74(M) at the border with Scotland north of Carlisle. Major A roads within Cumbria include:

  • A6 (Luton, Bedfordshire to Carlisle via Kendal and Penrith)
  • A66 (Workington to Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire via Keswick and M6 Junction 40)
  • A69 (Carlisle to Newcastle upon Tyne via Brampton and Hexham)
  • A590 (M6 Junction 36 to Barrow-in-Furness via Ulverston)
  • A591 (Sizergh to Bothel via Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere and Keswick)
  • A592 (Penrith to Newby Bridge via M6 Junction 40, Windermere and Bowness)
  • A595 (Carlisle to Dalton-in-Furness via Whitehaven and Workington)
  • A596 (Carlisle to Workington)

Several bus companies run services in Cumbria serving the main towns and villages in the county, with some services running to neighbouring areas such as Lancaster. Stagecoach North West is the largest; it has depots in Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Kendal and Workington. Stagecoach's flagship X6 route connects Barrow-in-Furness and Kendal in south Cumbria.


There are only two airports in the county: Carlisle Lake District and Barrow/Walney Island. Both airports formerly served scheduled passenger flights and both are proposing expansions and renovations to handle domestic and European flights in the near future. The nearest international airports to south Cumbria are Blackpool, Manchester, Liverpool John Lennon and Teesside. North Cumbria is closer to Newcastle, Glasgow Prestwick and Glasgow International.


Barrow-in-Furness is one of the country's largest shipbuilding centres, but the Port of Barrow is only minor, operated by Associated British Ports alongside the Port of Silloth in Allerdale. There are no ferry links from any port or harbour along the Cumbria coast.


The busiest railway stations in Cumbria are Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness, Penrith and Oxenholme Lake District. The 399 miles (642 km) West Coast Main Line runs through the Cumbria countryside, adjacent to the M6 motorway. The Cumbrian Coast Line connects Barrow-in-Furness to Carlisle and is a vital link in the west of the county. Other railways in Cumbria are the Windermere Branch Line, most of the Furness Line and much of the Settle-Carlisle Railway.


Cumbria's largest settlement and only city is Carlisle, in the north of the county. The largest town, Barrow-in-Furness, in the south, is slightly smaller. The county's population is largely rural: it has the second-lowest population density among English counties, and has only five towns with a population of over 20,000. Cumbria is also one of the country's most ethnically homogeneous counties, with 95.1% of the population categorised as White British (around 470,900 of the 495,000 Cumbrians).[40] However, the larger towns have ethnic makeups that are closer to the national average. The 2001 census indicated that Christianity was the religion with the most adherents in the county.

2010 ONS estimates placed the number of foreign-born (non-United Kingdom) people living in Cumbria at around 14,000 and foreign nationals at 6,000.[41] The 2001 UK Census showed the following most common countries of birth for residents of Cumbria that year:

  •  England, 454,137
  •  Scotland, 16,628
  •  Wales, 3,471
  •  Northern Ireland, 2,289
  •  Germany, 1,438
  •  Republic of Ireland, 1,359
  •  South Africa, 603
  •  Canada, 581
  •  Australia, 531
  •  United States, 493
  •  India, 476
  •  Hong Kong, 417
  •  Italy, 249
  •  New Zealand, 241
  •  France, 197
  •  Poland, 193
  •  Cyprus, 174
  •  Netherlands, 167
  •  Spain, 166
  •  Singapore, 160
Population totals for Cumbria
YearPop.±% p.a.
1801 173,017—    
1811 193,139+1.11%
1821 225,555+1.56%
1831 242,320+0.72%
1841 255,603+0.54%
1851 274,957+0.73%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1861 320,257+1.54%
1871 365,556+1.33%
1881 410,856+1.18%
1891 434,867+0.57%
1901 437,364+0.06%
1911 440,485+0.07%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1921 441,483+0.02%
1931 442,693+0.03%
1941 456,833+0.31%
1951 471,897+0.32%
1961 473,706+0.04%
1971 475,669+0.04%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1981 471,693−0.08%
1991 489,191+0.36%
2001 487,607−0.03%
2011 499,900+0.25%
2014 499,800−0.01%
Pre-1974 statistics were gathered from local government areas that are now comprised by Cumbria
Source: Great Britain Historical GIS.[42][43]
Population of Cumbria by district (2022)[44]
District Land area Population Density
(km2) (%) People (%)
Cumberland 3,012 45% 275,390 55% 91
Westmorland and Furness 3,756 55% 227,643 45% 61
Cumbria 6,768 100% 503,033 100% 74




Fell running is a popular sport in Cumbria, with an active calendar of competitions taking place throughout the year. Cumbria is also home to several of the most active orienteering clubs in the UK as well as the Lakes 5 Days competition that takes place every four years.

Football codes

Workington is home to the ball game known as Uppies and Downies,[45] a traditional version of football, with its origins in medieval football or an even earlier form.[46] Players from outside Workington also take part, especially fellow West Cumbrians from Whitehaven and Maryport.[47]

Cumbria formerly had minor American football clubs, the Furness Phantoms (the club is now defunct, its last name was Morecambe Bay Storm) and the Carlisle Kestrels.[48]


Brunton Park, the home of Carlisle United

Barrow and Carlisle United are the only professional football teams in Cumbria. Carlisle United attract support from across Cumbria and beyond, with many Cumbrian "ex-pats" travelling to see their games, both home and away.[citation needed]

Workington—who are always known locally as "the reds"—are a well-supported non-league team,[citation needed] having been relegated from the Football League in the 1970s. Workington made a rapid rise up the non league ladder and in 2007/08 competed with Barrow in the Conference North. Barrow were then promoted to the Conference Premier in 2007/08. In 2020, Barrow were promoted to the Football League as a result of winning the National League.

Rugby codes

Rugby union is popular in the county's north and east with teams such as Furness RUFC & Hawcoat Park RUFC (South Cumbria), Workington RUFC (Workington Zebras), Whitehaven RUFC, Carlisle RUFC, Creighton RUFC, Aspatria RUFC, Wigton RUFC, Kendal RUFC, Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC, Keswick RUFC, Cockermouth RUFC, Upper Eden RUFC and Penrith RUFC.

Craven Park, home of Barrow Raiders

Rugby league is a very popular sport in south and West Cumbria. Barrow, Whitehaven and Workington play in the Rugby League Championships. Amateur teams; Wath Brow Hornets, Askam, Egremont Rangers, Kells, Barrow Island, Hensingham and Millom play in the National Conference.


Cumbria County Cricket Club is one of the cricket clubs that constitute the National Counties in the English domestic cricket structure. The club, based in Carlisle, competes in the National Counties Cricket Championship and the NCCA Knockout Trophy. The club also play some home matches in Workington, as well as other locations. Cumbrian club cricket teams play in the North Lancashire and Cumbria League.

Cumbria is home to the Cartmel Valley Lions, an amateur baseball team based in Cartmel.


Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling is an ancient and well-practised tradition in the county with a strong resemblance to Scottish Backhold.

In the 21st century Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling along with other aspects of Lakeland culture are practised at the Grasmere Sports and Show, an annual meeting held every year since 1852 on the August Bank Holiday.

The origin of this form of wrestling is a matter of debate, with some describing it as having evolved from Norse wrestling brought over by Viking invaders,[49] while other historians associate it with the Cornish and Gouren styles[50] indicating that it may have developed out of a longer-standing Celtic tradition.[51]


Cumbria Kart Racing Club is based at the Lakeland Circuit, Rowrah, between Cockermouth and Egremont Lakeland Circuit. The track is currently a venue for rounds of both major UK national karting championships About Cumbria Kart Racing Club. Formula One world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both raced karts at Rowrah many times in the formative stages of their motor sport careers,[52] while other F1 drivers, past and present, to have competed there include Johnny Herbert, Anthony Davidson, Allan McNish, Ralph Firman, Paul di Resta and David Coulthard, who hailed from just over the nearby Anglo-Scottish border and regarded Rowrah as his home circuit, becoming Cumbria Kart Racing Club Champion in 1985 in succession to McNish (di Resta also taking the CKRC title subsequently).[53]

Workington Comets were a Workington-based professional speedway team,[54] which competed in the British Speedway Championship.[55]


Cumbria is the UK county with the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants, with seven in this classification in the Great Britain and Ireland Michelin Guide of 2021. Traditional Cumbrian cuisine has been influenced by the spices and molasses that were imported into Whitehaven in the 18th century. The Cumberland sausage (which has a protected geographical status) is a well-recognised result of this. Other regional specialities include Herdwick mutton and the salt-marsh raised lamb of the Cartmel Peninsula.[56]

Dialect influences


  • Cumbria was Celtic speaking until the Viking invasion, if not later (Cymry)[57]
  • Little English spoken in Cumbria; relatively sparsely populated until 12th/13th centuries[58]
  • The invading Angles and Saxons forced the indigenous Celtic peoples back to the western highlands of Cumbria, Wales and Cornwall, with little linguistic consequence, apart from a residual scattering of place-names.
  • Northwest – possibility of direct influence from Irish Gaelic across Irish Sea via Whitehaven until 10th century[59]
  • Celtic influence/kingdoms may have confirmed perception of difference between the north–south[clarification needed][57]
  • Linguistic interaction between Celts and English underrated: effectively Celtic influence marked the beginnings of a linguistic divide between English and other West Germanic dialects.[60]
  • Lexis – Celtic influence left specifically on the sound pattern of sheep-scoring numerals of Cumbrian and West Yorkshire[57]
  • Loss of inflections may be explained by contact with Celtic tribes and inter-marriage.[57]


  • Earliest Anglo-Saxon settlements in the east of England. Took over 200 years to establish a frontier in the west where the displaced British had settled[61]
  • Morphology – Old Northumbrian (little evidence) signs of loss of inflexions long before southern dialects below the Humber, precede Viking settlements and dialect contact situation[57]


  • Lack of extent of Old English written evidence[57]
  • Main attacks/raids on the North-East coast at Lindisfarne and Jarrow in 793/ 794[57]
  • Settlement patterns (Danes) contributed to emerging differences over time between Northumberland. Durham and Yorkshire dialects [57]
  • Norwegian settlers via Ireland to Isle of Man, Mersey estuary (901) and the Cumbrian/ Lancashire coasts (900–50) – dialectal differences (Danes/ Norwegians) often lumped together in standard histories – MUST have confirmed emerging dialectal differences east and west of the Pennines[57]
  • Danelaw – land of north and east of land ruled under Danish law and Danish customs (978–1016) [57]
  • Scandinavian influences vocabulary common words gradually diffused/ entered word stock (borrowings) which survive in regional use – ‘fell’ hillside, ‘lug’ ear, ‘loup’ jump, ‘aye’ yes
  • Influence on grammatical structure - Middle English texts reveal that present participle form ‘-and’, and possible that use of ‘at’ and ‘as’ as relative pronouns from Cumbria to East Yorkshire[57]
  • phonetically /g/, /k/ and cluster /sk/ have a northern/ Norse pronunciation /j/, /ʧ/ and /ʃ/ which are West Saxon – hard vs. soft consonants of north–south dialects – e.g. ‘give/ rigg’ ridge, ‘skrike’ shriek, ‘kist’ chest and ‘ik’[57]
  • ‘Interdialect forms’ in Danelaw area (diffuse > focussed situation) - no clear idea about what language they were speaking – mixture of Old English and Norse e.g. ‘she’ (3rd person pronoun) is claimed by both languages[57][62]
  • Bilingualism was norm in areas under Danelaw (plausible)[57]
  • Norse runic inscriptions survive from 11th century in Cumbria therefore may only been after Norman Conquest that ‘Norse as a living language died out’[63]
  • Norse surviving longest in closed communities, as in the Lake District[64]


  • Jewell (1994: 20) - Northumbria retained relative independence until 13th century – effective government of North by Normans ‘petered-out’ at Lake District and North of Tees (not recorded in Domesday Book)[65]
  • Carlisle retaken by Scots in 1136[57]


  • Early 10th century – all of the northwest of England occupied by a mixture of newcomers from Ireland of mixed Viking and Gaelic ancestry. The grip from Northumbrian[clarification needed] on the former territory of Rheged was that of Britons of Strathcylde reoccupied southwest Scotland and northwest England as far south as Derwent and Penrith.[66] which was held until Carlisle retaken by Scots in 1136[57]
  • Cumbric perhaps survived until it faded in the early 12th century throughout Cumbria.[67]
  • Cumbric score – counting sheep – Welsh correspondence Welsh ("un, dau, tri") – Cumberland ("yan, tyan, tethera") – Westmorland ("yan, than, teddera") – Lancashire ("yan, taen, tedderte") – West Yorkshire ("yain, tain, eddero") [66] survived 7-8 centuries after the language itself had died – Brittonic origin
  • Not one single complete phrase in Cumbric survives, evidence to suggest strong literary tradition, probably oral, some of this early material is known in a Welsh version[clarification needed][66]


Two evening newspapers are published daily in Cumbria. The News and Star focuses largely on Carlisle and the surrounding areas of north and west Cumbria, and the North-West Evening Mail is based in Barrow-in-Furness and covers news from across Furness and the South Lakes. The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald and The Westmorland Gazette are weekly newspapers based in Penrith and Kendal respectively. The Egremont 2Day newspaper, formerly Egremont Today when affiliated with the Labour Party, was a prominent monthly publication - founded by Peter Watson (and edited by him until his death in 2014) in 1990 until July 2018. In February 2020 The Herdwick News, run by the last editor of The Egremont 2Day, was launched and is an independent online news publication covering the county of Cumbria and the North West.

Due to the size of Cumbria the county spans two television zones: BBC North East and Cumbria and ITV Border in the north and BBC North West and ITV Granada in the south. Heart North West, Greatest Hits Radio Cumbria & South West Scotland and Smooth Lake District are the most popular local radio stations throughout the county, with BBC Radio Cumbria being the only station that is aimed at Cumbria as a whole.

The Australian-New Zealand feature film The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988) is set in Cumbria during the onset of the Black Death in 14th-century Europe.

Cumbria is host to a number of festivals, including Kendal Calling (actually held in Penrith since 2009)[68][69] and Kendal Mountain Festival.

Places of interest

Furness Abbey
Hadrian's Wall
Muncaster Castle
Accessible open space
Accessible open space
Amusement/Theme Park
Country Park
Country Park
English Heritage
Forestry Commission
Heritage railway
Heritage railway
Historic house
Historic House
Places of Worship
Places of Worship
Museum (free)

Museum (free/not free)
National Trust
National Trust


Notable people

See also


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External links

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