This year’s National Dialect Festival is being held on the other side of the Pennines, in Lancashire – while this may appear, at first sight, to be anathema to those who view the world through their (white) rose-tinted spectacles, there are some compelling reasons, both geographical and historical, that render this year’s festival more appealing than last year’s offering in Cornwall.
Firstly (and most obviously), being geographically adjacent, the festival will be far more accessible in terms of journey time and cost (particularly for those in the West Riding) – no more 9 hour train journeys this year (hats off to Eric and Rod, who undertook the epic journey last year), unless, that is, Northern Rail decide to introduce another timetable change….
Secondly, on a historical level, the die-hard Yorkists may be interested to know that Lancashire was a relative late-comer as a fully-fledged shire – the county was established in 1182, considerably later than most counties (and all counties to the south). Before this date, all the land north of the River Ribble was ostensibly part of Yorkshire (and listed as such in the Doomsday Book), which then extended from coast to coast. The land south of the Ribble (listed in the Doomsday Book as Inter Ripam et Mersam – ‘between the Ribble and Mersey’) was included in the returns for Cheshire and this may have been because of its 10th C history – the area to the west of the Pennines was clearly a chink in the armour of the Viking Kingdom of York, with Manchester being one of the first localities in Northumbria to be reconquered by Alfred the Great’s son, Edward (leading an army of Mercians), in 922. Subsequently, Alfred the Great’s grandson, Athelstan, fortified the area and used it as a staging post to conquer the North – so began the area’s domination by the (Wessex) kings of England, its settlement by Mercians and its subsequent early incorporation into the fledgling kingdom of England , the linguistic impact of which can still be seen today, with the general North Midlands area extending considerably further north on the Lancashire side of the Pennines than on the Yorkshire side of the hills.
So there we have it – Blackpool was in Doomsday Yorkshire, which means that even Eric should be able to cross into the land of the Red Rose, without coming out in a rash!
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