Cumbric - the lost language of Celtic Cumbria -   prospects for a revival

When the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain they advanced from east to west. Those Celts who weren't exterminated or enslaved by the barbarian Wehrmacht sought refuge in the western peninsulas of Britain and France.  Their original Brittonic language diverged into dialects and then separate languages -  Breton in Britanny, Cornish in Cornwall, Welsh in Wales and Cumbric in Cumbria and Strathclyde.

Breton and Welsh survive to the present day. Cornish became extinct in the 18th century, but sufficient written records remained for the language to be reconstructed, and a revival is now underway.

Cumbric revival
Cumbric became extinct in the Middle Ages - no-one quite knows when. The last vestiges of the language survived into the 20th century as folk memories of Celtic numbers used by Cumbrian shepherds for counting sheep and in children's games. Otherwise there are very few written records of late Cumbric in existence. So it is not possible to reconstruct the language as it was spoken by the country folk just before its extinction. All that can be said is that late Cumbric was probably very similar to, and mutually intelligible with, medieval Welsh.

However it may be possible to construct earlier bardic forms of Cumbric, for when the Cumbric kingdoms were eventually overrun it appears that their culture and literature found a new home in Wales, with the poetry of the two major Cumbric poets Aneirin and Taliesin being preserved by the Welsh bards and monks.  The poetry of the Druidic bard Taliesin gives a rare surviving insight into Druid metaphysics.


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Counting sheep in Cumbric

Celtic language relationships