Duwnwal Ri

gant John Pagan White


Duwnwal Ri a holossant
War riw e trenkis ag emwant
Eythir brinn a linn a gown
A wil ait Duwnwal Ri edon

E gorwedh, wodan er cerrik,
I eskirn in lenn a lourik
Ag ing Linn Glenn-Moar is er hal
E gorfowis talheth Duwnwal

Eskenn er vern haruw a gwel
Idhir tri bann rev ag ouchel
E caduw in ow cankow moar
Er luch a gel i goroun owr

Enoyth in er glenn ardh a fell
E gool er goolyat en dawel
Ru olreas is mil vlinedh
I draet taw emmil er duwredh

E tarv i haluw er yaledh
Attep brissok a’r brinnedh
A ferrinyon a ánt hebyow
A’r cummow duwn now er pennow

Pann ru devou dowdhek loyr
Carrek diamm er luch dhuwn oyr
A dhugas spiridyon ayrok
Gant hew a chorn du’r carn cregyok

Edh ot er garrek war er crouk
Tra levir er adsen a’r grouk
In menggi du’r Tiarn pe vodh
E bougelyant i goroun goth

A fann vo moar a chuwl er carn
Edh aroore Duwnwal cadarn
A’y holl gadwir a varchogeth
Truw er nant in doon i dalheth

Ag in lourik, lenn a choroun
E molir Ri Cumbry edon
A liw-ev war munidh a strat
Pann vo Tri-Bann maes a gostat


This poem is taken from John Pagan White’s Lays and Legends of the English Lake Country (1873) and recounts the legend of Dunmail Raise in Cumbria, a cairn and eponymous mountain pass, said to be the final resting place of the last Celtic King of Cumbria. The pass, between the valleys of Grasmere and Thirlmere, is said to have been the site of a battle between Dunmail and the Saxon King Edmund in AD 945. Dunmail was killed and later buried beneath the cairn, his sons had their eyes put out to prevent them mounting resistance, but his crown was taken up the fells to Grisedale Tarn and cast into the waters, safe from English hands. Like Arthur before him, it is said that someday Dunmail will rise once more to take his kingdom.

Whilst there are small kernals of truth to this legend, it is largely a product of the Romantic imagination of men such as Wordsworth and Pagan White himself. Nevertheless, it shows a willingness of Cumbrians to maintain some memory of their Celtic past throughout the Middle Ages and into the Modern era.

The translation above is a free translation to preserve the metre and rhyme.