Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Selection of Fieldnames from Thornton: Part One

Melanie from the ‘Thornton Through Time’ website (otherwise known to our forum readers as ‘History Hunter’) has been busy recently. She’s the best researcher Wyre Archaeology doesn’t have. One of these days we’re going to convince her to sign up proper. (I’m extemporising again, aren’t I? Best get on before everyone disappears to You Tube in search of Susan Boyle.)
Melanie, as I was saying, during one of her rainy afternoon trawls through the various Lancashire record repositories came across the following item and kindly sent me a copy. What is it? It’s a tithe map of Bourne, Holmes and Trunnah, that’s what, with some interesting fieldnames on it. If you’re wondering why it resembles a patchwork eiderdown, Melanie photographed it in sections and I’ve done my best to reassemble it.

Writing too small? Well, just be patient and we’ll enlarge some of the individual sections for you. In the meantime, just so that you can gather your bearings, that’s Marsh Mill right at the bottom there, and that wriggly field boundary towards the top left corner is part of the dyke following the defensive embankments round the bottom of Bourne Hill. (Unfortunately Bourne Hill itself isn’t on the map, which is a shame because we still don’t know what the hill’s actual name is. We’ve always called it Bourne Hill because that basically describes it, although our name seems to have resonated with people and even the great and the good are calling the place Bourne Hill nowadays.)
Right, it’s time for some of those fieldnames, so here’s a detail of the aforementioned tithe map (the copyright owner, of which, we’ve lost track of, so apologies if we’re unintentionally treading on anybody’s toes here).

The road running from just below the top left corner to about two thirds of the way along the bottom edge is Fleetwood Road, Fleetwood itself being somewhere off the left hand side of the map, Thornton being somewhere off the right. (If you’re one of our Australian or American readers this probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. Then again, I suspect, very little of what appears on this board makes much sense to anybody, anywhere, anyhow, so welcome to the club.)
The Old Earth fields (you can hunt these down for yourself on the map if you like…it’s cheaper than buying a Word Search magazine) are mentioned in various old documents as being the outskirts of the Saxon Township of Brun. We’ll come back to them shortly.
The Stanny Furlong fields are the intriguing bit. (At least they are as far as I’m concerned.) Stanny derives from the Saxon word ‘Stanig’ meaning ‘stony’, indicating presumably that, back in Saxon times, our Stanny Furlong fields were full of stones. (It should be remembered that, even though these tithe maps were drawn up in the mid-nineteenth century, the names recorded on them often reach back hundreds, if not thousands, of years.) ‘Stony’ fields are, more often than not, the result of ancient cobbled roads lying beneath the soil. Was this the original route of the Danes Pad, perhaps?
Well, no, probably not. As far as we can tell (and there’s bound to be some debate about this, so I hesitate to mention it) the Danes Pad never actually reached the Fleetwood Peninsula, crossing the River Wyre somewhere around Skippool and then continuing on the other side towards Preesall Hill along Highgate Lane (where, of course, we dug up a section of it last summer).
No…the Stanny Furlong fields are far more likely to have contained our Celtic track running from Nateby, via Stanah, up through Thornton and to the base of Bourne Hill. We know that the track exists on the hill itself (because we’ve dug it up) and (on the other side of Thornton) it emerges from beneath the housing estate on Stanah Road, but we lose it completely under the sprawl of Thornton itself. Unfortunately, over the last couple of centuries most of the fields on our tithe map have been ‘developed’ so, whatever the case, the enigma of the Stanny Furlong fields will have to remain just that.
Take a look at this:

That’s the same section of map we showed you a moment ago with a couple of areas highlighted. Note the shape of the fields we’ve coloured in, paying close attention to the central road (now hidden by houses) dividing them. That’s typical of Saxon villages, that is, in this case the Saxon village of Bourne (or Brun as it was known in those days).
Those strip fields were called ‘tenement strips’, each one originally containing its own dwelling place. They were basically the Dark Age equivalent of market gardens, each householder working the strip of land to the rear of his/her property.
The fields highlighted in yellow are still there, (at least they are at the time of writing) separated from one another by typical Saxon ditches. Want a photograph? Go on then, you’ve twisted my arm.

That’s the rear of Springfield Drive in the background. Our missing Saxon village road (as shown on the map) is probably somewhere beneath the grass running around the back garden fences.
We’ve got more to say about this lot, but no doubt our reader would welcome a short break before we trouble him/her further.
Before we leave, however, one last fieldname (or set of fieldnames) worth a mention is (or possibly are) Arley. Arley still exists as a location, of course, Great Arley School (where as kids we used to go swimming) occupying the area nowadays. We were curious as to what Arley meant and, as far as we can tell (although Wyre Archaeology’s expert in ancient languages, Dave Hampson, might have a few thoughts of his own to add to this conjecture) it stems from the Saxon root word ‘Arleas’, meaning ‘dishonourable or wicked’.
Having said that, it’s equally likely to stem from the other Saxon root word ‘Arlic’, meaning just plain ‘honourable’.
At the risk of insulting everybody who lives in Arley (both of them) I’d like to think it was the former.


Ann oDyne said...
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F.G. Marshall-Stacks said...
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History Hunter said...

I tried to resize all the bits and put them together but gave up after about 10 mins. Very interesting to read as none of it meant anything to me cause I didn't know what to look for.

Anonymous said...

We used to call it Borno Hill many years ago.

Jayne said...

Just out of curiosity - how big is the area, in acres, those strip fields cover?
The houses were built in Oz with 1/4 of an acre as it was deemed that 1/4 an acre was sufficient for households to grow their own produce on to provide for themselves.

DaveH said...

Ok Brian taking my name in vain! You're certainly correct that the A-S did have words based on a root 'ar' or 'aer' (German Ehr) meaning 'honour' one meaning without honour/wicked and t'other meaning 'honourable' but the experts (I'm an amateur)tend to go for more direct interpretations of place names. In this case the several Arleys in England are usually seen as stemming from 'earn' - eagle and 'leah' wood. So Eagle Wood.