Sage (sageharper) wrote in little_details,

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Historical/geography related questions about 16th century Cumbria

Hi, I'm posting this on behalf of a friend. He's in the planning stages of a historical (possibly fantasy ish) novel set in Cumbria, Britain. Unfortunatly being American he's having a few problems with research.
I'm British but not familiar with Cumbia myself, so thought I'd hand it over to the experts :)

The book is set in the mid/late 16th century. I can't really say that it takes place in the average community. The premise is, this group of people ventured into the mountains and established a "commune," if you will, in the 12th century. The commune evolved so as to include a diverse population of travelers who had stumbled upon it over the years (and their descendents). Anyway, the commune is finally discovered/infiltrated and the "leader" is taken away to be tried for witchcraft. I would like to have this leader be kindof a teacher of the old ways to the commune/tribe. I don't want to brand him as having a certain religion, because he has been shielded from religion for so long in this isolated community (he is the descendent of one of the founders). But I would like him to communicate with nature spirits and evoke forces that would seem supernatural to the outside world. I also want him to practice herbalism and healing arts.

I dunno, I'm still mainly in research, and most of my work is in planning and in my head right now. I have to sit down and just put all the info in front of me and sculpt it out a bit. One part I'm having a hard time with is making it conceivable that a community could remain so hidden from the rest of the world for so long. As you are familiar with British history and geography more so than I, do you have any suggestions on this detail? For example, would the Cumbrian mountains provide an adequate environment to establish the commune? Was this region fairly well-traversed in the 16th century?

Thanks for your help.
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