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Dunmail Raise

Dunmail Raise was the scene of a bloody battle for control of the lands of Cumbria. The battle took place against King Dunmail, the last King of Cumbria, against the united forces of Malcolm, the King of Scotland and Edmund, a Saxon King. Dunmail was defeated and slain and his sons were mutilated, his men were made to build a stone cairn over the spot where he fell.

Traditionally King Dunmail's golden crown was supposed to have been thrown into Grisdale Tarn and has never been recovered. This is unlikely as the crown would have been valuable war plunder.

The road which runs nearby is thought to have been an ancient routeway used far back into the Stone Age.

Ian Topham

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Re: Dunmail Raise

Tricky one, that. History says that Dunmail survived this battle and died in exile on a pilgrimage to Rome thirty years later, in 975CE.

Options that would support the idea that it's a burial cairn are that it's never been excavated properly, so there could be remains under there - we don't know. As for Dunmail, perhaps there are other bodies there - but not Dunmail. Also, there were a lot of similar names in this period, so there could be some confusion over who died in Rome.

On the other hand, the Raise has been moved a bit on a couple of occasions - if you've been, you'll know why! - and nothing has been found to suggest there's something under there.

There is a theory that the Raise is a pile of 'soul stones', ie. you put a stone in the pile before you went into battle, to 'look after' your soul. You picked it up after the battle, so the remaining pile represents how many people died there.

Dunmail Raise, unlike many mountain cairns in Cumbria, is not a Bronze Age cairn, and that battle really happened in 945CE, so I reckon it's correct to associate it with that. But the burial-place of Dunmail? Probably not.

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Ian Topham
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Re: Dunmail Raise

Thanks for the contribution esmeraldamac, it is funny how stories can grow and develop, often totally ignoring and eventually obscuring historical fact.

Welcome to the site :)

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Re: Dunmail Raise

Thank 'ee :)

Given that there a lot of cairns with burials about, it's no wonder people thought that.

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