The Britons
Of the four peoples of whom Bede wrote in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, it was perhaps the Britons who were most radically affected by developments in the period between the Roman departure from Britain to 731, the year in which Bede closed his account.  Their culture and language suffered an almost total extinction in the east of Britain, from the south-east of England to the Forth in Scotland.  Not even the often unquestionably heroic resistance associated with the name of Arthur, the ubiquitous commander or even king, could prevent that catastrophe.  The pressure from Angles, Saxons and Jutes was not to be denied, dislodging the Britons and forcing them into retreat where it did not exterminate them.  The vigorous language of these Germanic invaders put down its roots in the areas of political change and settlement.  The Britons, gradually withdrawing into Cornwall, Wales, the north-west of England and the west of Scotland south of the Clyde, had quickly divided the land into a number of kingdoms, the boundaries of which varied according to circumstances.  Even that line of British resistance was to be broken on occasion, most notably by the Battle of Chester in 616 to which reference has been made.  Ethelfrith's decision to march to Chester may have been an answer, long delayed, to the Battle of Ardderyd, thought to be Arthuret, eight miles to the north of Carlisle.  Here, in 573, the Britons of the kingdom of Rheged, under the leadership of Rederich, fought for their religion and their own survival.  Victorious, Rederich joined Rheged, its capital probably in Luguvallium or Carlisle, with the kingdom of the Britons of south-west Scotland, to form Strathclyde. its new capital was at Alcluith or Dun Breatann, the fort of the Britons, modern Dumbarton.  It was in Ethelfrith's interests to sever the connection of this kingdom of Strathclyde with the Britons of Wales and this he succeeded in doing. 

The kingdom of Strathclyde in its form under Rederich did not in any case survive.  Ethelfrith's successors brought the English part, that is Cumbria, under their control.  Scottish Strathclyde, roughly the shires of Ayr, Dumbarton, Lanark, Renfrew and Stirling was to enjoy a lengthier and somewhat more distinguished if no less turbulent history. its independence was often challenged, by the Picts, the Angles of Northumbria, and by raiders from Scandinavia.  Under such attacks it could play only a subordinate role in events, although it was not entirely without some impact.  A short resurgence of the power of the Britons, coinciding with the decline of Northumbria, allowed the Britons of Cumbria to unite with their kinsmen in Scotland.  A similar episode occurred in the tenth century but was brought to a conclusion at the Battle of Brunanburgh, a site somewhere in the north of England.  The lands of the Britons of Strathclyde had been devastated by Athelstan, king of Wessex and Mercia and acknowledged as king of all the English between 926 and 939.  Therefore the Britons entered into an unlikely alliance with Olaf, king of the Vikings of Dublin, who sought to reclaim from Athelstan the kingdom of York, as well as with the Piers and the Scots whose lands had also been ravaged by Athelstan.  Unfortunately they suffered defeat at Brunanburgh, Eight years later, Strathclyde, once again devastated by a king of the English, this time Edmund, Athelstan's half-brother, was handed over by him to Malcolm 1, king of the Scots and the descendant of Kenneth MacAlpin.



From "A Travelers History of Scotland" by Andrew Fisher, published by Interlink Books, NY
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