The Last King of Cumbria

According to local legend, Dunmail, King of Cumbria, was attacked by the combined forces of Edmund of England and Malcolm of Scots and retreated into the heart of the Lake District. Dunmail met the kings in battle in the pass that divides Grasmere from Thirlmere but was defeated, and was killed in the fight.

Some of the surviving Cumbrians, taken prisoner by Edmund, were ordered to collect rocks to pile on Dunmail’s body, forming a cairn that still exists to this day and gives the pass its modern name, Dunmail Raise.

Others of Dunmail’s warriors fled with the crown of Cumberland, climbing into the mountains to Grisedale Tarn below Helvellyn, where they threw it into the depths to be safe until some future time when Dunmail would come again to lead them. Every year the warriors are said to return to Dunmail Raise. There they strike the cairn with their spears and a voice is heard from deep inside the stones, saying “Not yet, not yet; wait awhile, my warriors.

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