Languages Wiki
General information

Flag of United Kingdom.png United Kingdom

Flag of England.png England
Flag of Northumbria.png Northumbria
Flag of Scotland.png Scotland
Language family Indo-European
  • Germanic
    • West Germanic
      • Anglo-Frisian
        • Old English
          • Anglic
            • Northumbrian
Language codes
ISO 639-1


ISO 639-2


ISO 639-3




Northumbrian was an Old English dialect spoken by the Anglian people of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Together, with the Mercian, Kentish, and West Saxon dialects, it creates one of the subcategories of Old English devised and used by scholars today.

Northumbrian was spoken from the Humber estuary, currently in England, to the Fifth of Forth, currently in Scotland. During the invasions of Vikings in the 9th century, the dialect became under the influence of the invaders.

Cædmon's Hymn, originally written in the Northumbrian dialect.

The earliest Old English texts that still survive today were written in the Northumbrian dialect: these are Cædmon's Hymn and Bede's Death Song. Other works, including several of Cædmon's poetry, however, have been lost. Other examples of Northumbrian's use are the Runes on the Ruthwell Cross from the Dream of the Rood, the Leiden Riddle[3], and the glosses in the Lindisfarne Gospels of the mid 10th century.

The Viking invasion forced the dialect to be split in two.[4] The Southern Northumbrian dialect was mainly influenced by the Norse. The Northern Northumbrian dialect not only kept several Old English words, which were replaced in the south by Norse words, but was also a strong influence on the creation of the English language in northern England, especially those of modern Northeast England and Scotland.[4] The north and south split around the River Tees.[4]

The Lord's Prayer[]

Wikipedia-logo.png This page or section incorporates Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Examples of the first English literature include the Lord's Prayer in Old English from about 650, which begins with "Faeder ure, Thu the eart on heofonum,". Some Scottish and Northumbrian people still say /uːr ˈfeðər/ or /uːr ˈfɪðər/ "our father", and [ðuː eːrt] "thou art".[5]

FADER USÆR ðu arðin heofnu
Sie gehalgad NOMA ÐIN.
Tocymeð RÍC ÐIN.
suæ is in heofne and in eorðo.
HLAF USERNE of'wistlic sel ús todæg,
and f'gef us SCYLDA USRA,
suæ uoe f'gefon SCYLDGUM USUM.
And ne inlæd usih in costunge,
ah is in heofne and in eorðo.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 English language on Wikipedia
  2. Linguasphere Observatory on English Wikipedia
  3. In MS. Voss. lat. Q. 166 at the University of Leiden, 9th century (see article by R. W. Zandvoort in English and Germanic Studies, vol. 3 (1949-50))
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Northumbrian dialect on English Wikipedia
  5. Gray, Alasdair, The Book of Prefaces, Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2000 (2002 edition) ISBN 0-7475-5912-0
  • Sweet, H., ed. (1885) The Oldest English Texts: glossaries, the Vespasian Psalter, and other works written before A.D. 900. London: for the Early English Text Society
  • Sweet, H., ed. (1946) Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader; 10th ed., revised by C. T. Onions. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ("Northumbrian texts"--pp. 166-169)

Flag of Northumbria.png This article relating to Northumbria is a stub. You can help Languages Wiki by expanding it.