DRUM AND TRUMPET.
“The history of Northumberland is essentially a drum and trumpet history, from the time when the buccina of the Batavian cohort first rang out over the moors of Procolitia down to the proclamation of James III. at Warkworth Cross”—Cadwallader J Bates.
This sentence of the historian of Northumberland sums up the story of our northern county no less admirably than tersely, and it would be difficult to find one which should more clearly bring before us the whole atmosphere of north-country history and north-country doings for many centuries.
Within the limits of this chapter it is impossible to go into the details of every “foughten field” within the county; the most that can be done is to indicate the many and treat in detail only the few. A goodly number have already been alluded to in connection with the place where each occurred.
After the Roman campaigns, from those of Agricola to those of Theodosius the elder and Maximus, and the legion sent by Stilicho, the earliest battle story is that of the one in Glendale fought by King Arthur. Then the forming of the kingdom of Bernicia with the advent of Ida at Bamburgh was the beginning of a long-protracted struggle between the various little states, each fighting for its life, and surrounded by others equally determined to take every advantage that offered against it. The sons of Ida fought against the celebrated Urien, a Keltic chief, who almost succeeded in dispossessing them of their kingdom of Bernicia. Hussa, one of Ida’s sons, ultimately vanquished Urien’s son Owen, “chief of the glittering West”; and after Hussa’s death Ethelric of Bernicia, as we have seen, overcame the neighbouring chieftain of Deira, thus forming the kingdom of Northumbria. His successor, Ethelfrith, in the year 603 gained a great victory over a large force of northern Britons under a leader named Aedan at a place called Daegsanstan, which is thought to be Dissington, near Newcastle. His further victories were gained outside the limits of our present survey.
After the long and glorious reign of Edwin, his successor, Ethelfrith’s sons came back to Bamburgh; the eldest, Eanfrid, was slain within a year, and his brother Oswald carried on the struggle against Penda of Mercia. We have seen how he fought against Penda and Cadwallon on the Heavenfield near Chollerford, and gained a victory which obtained for him many years of peace. Penda was finally slain by Oswald’s successor Oswy in a great battle which is supposed to have taken place on the banks of the Tweed.