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The county of Cumbria was created in 1974. It was a combination of the area of the administrative counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, the Cumberland county borough of Carlisle, along with the North Lonsdale or Furness part of Lancashire (including the county borough of Barrow-in-Furness), and from the West Riding of Yorkshire, the Sedbergh Rural District. The name "Cumbria" has been used for the territory for centuries.
Following the creation of Cumbria as a non-metropolitan county, some people, particularly those born or brought up in the area, continue to refer to some parts of Cumbria as part of the ancient county boundaries; this includes the Furness area as a part of Lancashire, and the Kendal and surrounding area as a part of Westmorland.
Local papers like The Westmorland Gazette and Cumberland and Westmorland Herald are continue to be named on this pre-1974 county basis. Others, including local government, promotional material for the area, the Lake District National Park Authority, and most visitors describe the area as being in "Cumbria". A MORI poll in the county found 79% of those polled identified "very strongly" or "strongly" to Cumbria throughout the county, but dropping to 55% and 71% in Barrow and South Lakeland districts, which incorporate part of historic Lancashire.[
Cumbria as an English county on the border with Scotland has faced repeated invasion from many armys. Resisting such attacks and many attempts by the Kingdom of Scotland to annex it has given Cumbria a strong sense of pride and a very strong Northern English culture, shared with its neighboring counties, particularly Lancashire and Northumberland.
The culture of the area was predominantly Celtic until fairly late after the annexation by the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria (see Rheged), and the name for the area derives from its name in the Cumbric language. It is etymologically connected to the Welsh term Cymru, meaning "Land of brothers", which is now used as the Welsh name for Wales itself. The Cumbric language has been extinct since about the 11th century.
Cumbria also had very strong links with Norse culture due to Viking invasions, evidenced particularly by the genetics of the local population. There have been a number of studies with results showing that the county of Cumbria has one of the most striking signs of Scandinavian genetics in England.
The Cumbrian dialect is a local dialect spoken in Cumbria in northern England, not to be confused with the extinct Celtic language Cumbric that used to be spoken in Cumbria. As in any county, there is a gradual drift in accent towards its neighbours. Barrow-in-Furness (within the historic boundaries of Lancashire) has a similar accent to much of Lancashire whilst the northern parts of Cumbria have a more North-East English sound to them. Whilst clearly being an English accent approximately between Lancashire and Geordie it shares much vocabulary with Scots. 'Cumbrian' here refers both to Cumbria and also to Cumberland, the historic county which, along with Westmorland, has formed the bulk of Cumbria since the enactment of local government re-organisation in 1974. There is a Cumbrian Dictionary of Dialect, Tradition and Folklore, which was written by William Rollinson, but is much harder to find a copy of than the respective dictionaries for Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Many of the traditional dialect words are remnants of Norse settlement, with Norwegian settlers probably arriving in Cumbria in the 10th century via Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Carlisle United are the only professional football team in Cumbria. They attract support from across Cumbria. However, Barrow A.F.C., has been one of the best supported non-league football teams in the UK since their relegation in the 1970s. Recently Workington Reds have also made a rapid rise up the non league ladder and now compete with Barrow in the Conference North.
Rugby league is a very popular sport in West Cumbria. Whitehaven RLFC, Workington Town and Barrow Raiders all compete in the National Leagues. Carlisle RLFC played in the national competitions between 1981 and 1997, Carlisle today has Carlisle Centurions in the Rugby League Conference. There are amateur BARLA teams playing in the National Conference, notablely Wath Brow Hornets and Millom as well as a Cumberland League and Barrow & District League.