The report about the sale of Blencathra (Gazette, May 8, ‘Mountain for sale!’) included a piece titled ‘Hill top chair… or saddle’, which mentioned Blencathra is an ancient Cumbric name meaning ‘Bare hill top chair’.
I have also heard Blencathra translated with the meaning of ‘Devil’s peak’.
This devil is thought to be Afallac, an ancient Cumbric god of the underworld, whose place in heaven is thought to be Avalon, or Apple Tree Island.
Avalon is mentioned in the legend of King Arthur, and it is thought by local legend that Arthur and his knights are not dead, but live on in a state of limbo inside Blencathra, waiting for a time when Britain is once again under threat by invading forces.
Hill top chair or god of the underworld? Is there anyone with an understanding of these ancient languages who could give us a clue?
It is believed Cumbric, a form of ancient Welsh, was spoken widely in much of the north of England and southern Scotland until as late as the eleventh century. Derwent, Penruddock and Penrith are just a few of the names thought to have derived from that ancient language.
Good luck to those locals trying to raise funds to purchase Blencathra, but beware; a ghostly army has been seen marching up there!