In Chapter 4 of The Isles by Norman Davies, he writes:

One effect of the Northumbrian advance was to split British territory in Caledonia into two. By the eighth century at the latest, the southern chunk that was soon to be called Cumbria, i.e., a second Cymru, was completely separated by Bernician territory from the British kingdom of Strathclyde, with its capital at Dumbarton

But I'm unable to realize what does he mean by this point or what is so significant in what he said. I guess he wants to say that two celtic kingdoms were separated by an anglic kingdom which led to their languages and culture diverge with Cumbria more like Welsh and Strathclyde more like Scots. Is this right ? A map from internet


Yes, that's roughly what he's saying. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to run a unified country, or even a unified armed resistance, between two entities separated by hostile territory.

Here's a map from the beginning of the 7th Century that is politically coded, that might make this easier to see. The land in the hands of Celtic kings is shown in green, the various Anglic possessions in other colors:

enter image description here

As you can see, the Celts in ("North") Wales have already been cut off from their kin up in Strathclyde. All the Northumbrians would have to do to split Strathclyde in half at this point is march West and take Carlisle (H on the question's map). Which they eventually did.

Now, all this being said, the dates for all this are kind of fuzzy. It isn't tough to find maps showing Strathclyde essentially gone barring the area north of Galloway as early as 700. I think the issue is that we only really have two historical sources for this era, and one happened to be Anglo-Saxon (and died in the mid 700's), and the other Welsh.

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  • Although transport by sea was quite convenient compared to transport by land in this era, so Wales wasn't quite so isolated as the map suggests to the modern eye. It wasn't until the 13th Century that Wales was conquered after all. – James Sep 23 '19 at 12:26

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