The Anglian territory of Bernicia was approximately equivalent to the modern British counties of
Northumberland, Durham, Berwickshireand East Lothian, stretching from the Forth to the Tees. In the early 7th century, it merged with its southern neighbour, Deira, to form the kingdom of Northumbriaand its borders subsequently expanded considerably.
Bernicia is mentioned in
Old Welshpoetry, in the writings of Nenniusand elsewhere under the name of "Bryneich" or "Brynaich". It is not quite clear whether this is simply supposed to represent a Welsh version of "Bernicia", or was the name of a preceding Brythonickingdom. However, the name seems to derive from the Brythonic word "Berniccā" meaning ‘land of mountain passes’, so the latter hypothesis would appear to be correct.
This Brythonic kingdom was formed from what had once been the southern lands of the
Votadini, possibly as part of the division of a supposed ‘great northern realm’ of Coel Hen in c. AD 420. This northern realm is referred to by Welsh scholars as "Yr Hen Ogledd" or, literally, "The Old North". The kingdom may have been ruled from the site that later became the English Bamburgh, which certainly features in Welsh sources as "Din Guardi". Near this high-status residence lay the island of Lindisfarne(formerly known, in Welsh, as "Ynys Metcaut"), which became the seat of the Bernician bishops. It is unknown when the Angles finally conquered the whole region, but around 604 is likely.
Kings of Bryneich
There are several
Old Welshpedigrees of princely "Men of the North" which may represent the Kings of Bryneich. The late John Morris surmised that the line of a certain Morcant Bulcreferred to these monarchs, chiefly because he identified this man as the murderer of Urien Rhegedwho was, at the time, besieging Lindisfarne.
Some of the
Anglesof Bernicia (Old English: "Beornice") may have been employed as mercenaries along Hadrian's Wallduring the late Roman period. Others are thought to have migrated north (by sea) from Deira (O.E: "Derenrice" or "Dere") [The History of England - From the Earliest Times to the Norman Conquest By Thomas Hodgkin, Published by READ BOOKS, 2007, ISBN 1406708968, 9781406708967 in the early 6th century.] The first Anglian king of whom we have any record is Ida, who is said to have obtained the throne and the kingdom about 547. His sons spent many years fighting a united force from the surrounding Brythonic kingdoms until their alliance collapsed into civil war.
A Forcibly United Northumbria
Ida’s grandson, Æthelfrith (Æðelfriþ), united Deira with his own kingdom by force around the year 604. He ruled the two kingdoms (united as Northumbria) until he was defeated and killed by Rædwald of East Anglia (who had given refuge to Edwin, son of Ælle, king of Deira) around the year 616. Edwin then became king. The early part of Edwin's reign was possibly spent finishing off the remaining resistance coming from "Bryneich" exiles operating out of
Gododdin. After he had defeated the remaining Brythonic population of "Bryneich" he was then drawn towards similar subjugation of Elmet(a Cumbricspeaking territory which once existed in the modern-day West Riding of Yorkshire, near Leeds) which drew him into direct conflict with Wales proper.
Following the disastrous
Battle of Hatfield Chaseon 12 October, 633, in which Edwin was defeated and killed by Cadwallon ap Cadfanof Gwynedd and Penda of Mercia, Northumbria again was divided into Bernicia and Deira. Bernicia was then briefly ruled by Eanfrith, son of Aethelfrith, but after about a year he went to Cadwallon to sue for peace and was killed. Eanfrith's brother Oswald then raised an army and finally defeated Cadwallon at the Battle of Heavenfieldin 634. After this victory, Oswald appears to have been recognised by both Bernicians and Deirans as king of a properly united Northumbria. The kings of Bernicia were thereafter supreme in that kingdom, although Deira had its own sub-kings at times during the reigns of Oswiu and his son Ecgfrith.
Kings of Bernicia
thumb|400px|right|List of Bernician Rulers from AD 547. [">Citation
title=An Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive View of the County Palatine of Durham
publisher=Mackenzie and Dent
publication-place=Newcastle upon Tyne
*Ida son of Eoppa (547 - 559)
*Glappa son of Ida (559 - 560)
*Adda son of Ida (560 - 568)
*Æthelric son of Ida (568 - 572)
*Theodric son of Ida (572 - 579)
*Pǣnts son of Ida (579)
*Inse son of Ida (579)
*Wheltur son of Ida (579)
*Frithuwald (579 - 585)
Hussa(585 - 593)
*Æthelfrith (593 - 616)
Deiran rule 616 - 633)
Eanfrith of Berniciason of Æthelfrith (633 - 634)
Under Oswald son of Æthelfrith, Bernicia was united with Deira to form
Northumbriafrom 634 onward.
* Alcock, Leslie, "Kings and Warriors, Craftsmen and Priests in Northern Britain AD 550–850." Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2003. ISBN 0-903903-24-5
* Alcock, Leslie, "Arthur's Britain: History and Archaeology, AD 367–634." Penguin, London, 1989. ISBN 0-14-139069-7
* Higham, N.J., "The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350–1100." Sutton, Stroud, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5
* Lowe, Chris, "The Making of Scotland: Angels, Fools and Tyrants: Britons and Angles in Southern Scotland." Canongate, Edinburgh, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0862418755
* Morris, John, "The Age of Arthur." Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1973. ISBN 0-297-17601-3
David Ford Nash, "Early British Kingdoms"- [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/morcabbr.html] [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/kingdoms/496.html] [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/kingdoms/410.html]
Bedewrote about Bernicia in his " Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum".
* David Ford Nash, "Early British Kingdoms" E.B.K.- [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/maps/425_kingdoms.html] [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/maps/525_kingdoms.html] [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/maps/550_kingdoms.html] [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/maps/625_kingdoms.html]
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