In 1086, North Lancashire, Cumberland, and Westmoreland had yet to acquire the status of separate counties, a status achieved in the early twelfth century. In Domesday Book the area is called Amounderness and described as an appendage to the royal lands in Yorkshire, occupying less than a folio. The name Amounderness derives from Agmund - possibly the Viking 'hold' (lord) of the area who died in 911 - and ness, the combined meaning being the 'headland' (or possibly lordship) of Agmund.
Like South Lancashire, Amounderness was - or had been - under the control of a single Norman tenant-in-chief, Roger of Poitou. According to Domesday, it was almost entirely denuded of population and resources in 1086. Only the area around Preston is recorded as having any population at all, and in such terms as to suggest just how sparse this was. Of 60 vills in the manor of Preston, it was recorded that:
All these vills and 3 churches belong to PRESTON. Out of these, 16 are inhabited by a few people; but how many may be living there is not known. The rest are waste (YKS 1L1).
Most historians have interpreted this situation as the effect of military activity; others believe devastation on this scale to be beyond the capacity of medieval armies and have sought explanations of the apparent desolation of the area in the defects of the Domesday record.
For more detail on the area, see Gillian Fellows-Jensen, Scandinavian settlement names in the north-west (1985); Angus J.L. Winchester, Landscape and society in medieval Cumbria (1987); Denise Kenyon, The origins of Lancashire (1991); and Charles Phythian-Adams, Land of the Cumbrians: a study in British provincial origins, 400-1120 (1996); and for the debate on war and waste, see R. Welldon Finn, The Norman Conquest and its effects on the economy, 1066-1086 (1971); D.M. Palliser, 'Domesday Book and the harrying of the north', Northern History, vol. 29 (1993), pages 1-23; and John J.N. Palmer, 'War and Domesday waste', in Armies, chivalry and warfare in medieval Britain and France, edited by Matthew Strickland (1998), pages 256-78.
For South Lancashire, see between the Ribble and the Mersey.