Jutting out from the edge of the Lake District and home to a proud industrial heritage, the Furness Peninsula seems to weld together many of our contrasting ideas about what Englishness means. To the north lies some of the country’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty; at the southern tip sits a shipyard where nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy are built. The area is defined by working-class values, post-industrial decline and 21st-century regeneration.
By uniting these elements, Furness appears to epitomise many of the complex ideas behind a notion of England that is both very modern, and very old.
But this, it turns out, is far from the complete picture. In a recent project, historians have begun to scratch the surface of a much earlier period in Furness’ past – one that not only changes what we know about its history, but also raises questions about these very ideas of Englishness itself.
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