Posted by: travelrat | January 8, 2014

Dunmail Raise

Dunmail Raise

The road from Keswick to Ambleside runs over a pass called Dunmail Raise. Legend has it that it was named after Dunmail, the last King of Cumbria, who fell in battle here, trying to keep invaders from the neighbouring kingdom of Strathclyde at bay.

There’s a tall cairn overlooking the reservoir of Thirlmere, where he is supposed to be buried … and the road, a dual carriageway at this point … makes an obliging bulge to avoid it.

According to historians, there really was a chieftain named Domnhall ruling in this area, but he died in Rome, twelve years after the battle in which he is supposed to have been killed. The cairn, it has been suggested, marks nothing more than the border between Westmorland and Cumberland.

Nevertheless, the legend persisted. The King’s warband, fleeing the battle, took his crown with them, casting it into Grisedale Tarn as they passed. And, it was said that, if anything ever threatened Cumbria, their shades would retrieve the crown, and carry it to the cairn, where King Dunmail would arise, and deal with the matter.

However, that would seem to be something he failed to do in life. Despeite the indignities Cumbria has suffered at the hands of the Government, the County Council, the Friends of the Lake District and many more, I have yet to hear of the perpetrators of the same being chased from the county by the ghostly King and his spectral Army.

More’s the pity!


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