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Faith and Religion in Cumbria

Vol1: From Prehistoric Times to the Seventeenth Century

Michael A. Mullett


Faith and Religion in the Lake Counties is an innovative and wide-ranging study of the religious experience of the inhabitants of Lakeland over the course of three millennia.

In Volume One, the area’s rich range of stone circles and other memorials attest the force of belief in the consciousness of their builders. In Roman times there was a fusion of imperial beliefs and practices with local modes of worship.

Christianisation was consolidated and expanded through the missionary achievments of evangelists such as Kentigern and Cuthbert. Christianity remained a constant feature of the social scene, leaving its imprint in monuments such as the Gosforth and Bewcastle crosses.

The Normans brought about a revolution in the region’s religious life, creating a diocese centred on Carlisle and its new Cathedral and establishing monastic houses, such as Furness Abbey.

The parochial system was enlarged and the Cathedral emergened as a centre for doctrinal instruction, facilitated by its art-work. The orders of friars were important teachers of the laity.

Late medieval Cumbria saw a renewal of ‘traditional’ Catholic faith thatacted as a barrier to state-supported religious change in the 16th century. The Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536-7 was a popular rising in defence of the monasteries against Henry VIII’s depredations.

Eventually, however, Cumbria joined the rest of Britain as an overwhelmingly Protestant community. In the mid-17th century the imposition of a monolithic ‘puritan’ variant sparked an adverse reaction that saw the emergence of England’s first pluralistic regional society: the radical, revolutionary Quaker faith was born in the Westmorland Dales.

Deeply researched, evenly balanced and attractively written, this book follows a group of recent studies in which Michael Mullett, Emeritus Professor of Religious and Cultural History at the University of Lancaster, has explored key features of Cumbrian urban history.







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Paperback 167mm x 245mm



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