Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Selection of Fieldnames from Thornton: Part Two

We mentioned in the last section of this article that the ‘Old Earth’ fields denoted the northern most boundaries of the Saxon township of Bourne and, of course, if you check our tithe map again you’ll see that this is obviously the case. We’ve highlighted them in red on the detail below to save you the trouble of having to search for them.

You’ll notice that just above them (as the directionally challenged crow flies) is a mediaeval field called Green Dicks Hey. Don’t ask, because we don’t know, and as much as we’d like to believe that the name alludes to a farmer suffering from a medical complaint, there’s also a Dicks Mill in Carleton, so it was probably just some local play on words. (Come to think of it, Dicks might actually be the local pronunciation of dykes.) Whatever the case, originally no doubt the Old Earth fields would have reached into this area as well. During the mediaeval period a lot of the Saxon tenement field boundaries were removed to open the fields into the shapes we’d more commonly recognise nowadays.
Next to the Old Earth fields, highlighted in yellow (we’ve thought of everything to make your lives easier) is Borty Berry and Bottom Burty Berry. (Go on…get it out of your systems. It sounds a bit like bottom burpy berry, we know. There…better now?)
According to one book on Lancashire fieldnames that we own, the title of which I’ve currently forgotten, which is perhaps as well under the circumstances, ‘Bortyberry’ refers to a field that once had a berry from a bor tree in it.
Yes, well, I can see that, can’t you? Imagine the scene, a wild and woolly night in a Thornton farmhouse, the farmer tamping tobacco into his pipe bowl in front of a roaring log fire whilst his stuffed toy of a son watches the smoke curl up the chimney.

Jus’ gone darn tha Bortee Burri field, will ’as Our Granville? Av left me flat cap ont’ geetpost.
Which one’s Bortee Burri, Da?
As one at as un berry roight int’ middle onnit.
An berry, Da?
Aye…jus’ twon. Right slap bang int middle. An burri, an’ this is vera importuant d’y’ear…” He leans closer and indicates the severity of the case by poking his idiot son in the ribs with his pipe. “An burri from as bor tree.
Warts a bor tree, Da?
Dunno son. It’s sommat what arv just meed oop. An’ mind y’ don’t get yon field mixed oop with Burtee Burri neither.
Burtee Burri, Da?
S’reet son. Thart’s t’won next do-oor. T’won wi’ a burri in t’ middle onnit, wat comes from a ‘bur’ tree.
You mean, like t’other one further oop, Da, wi’ berry int middle onnit wat comes from a ‘bar’ tree?
Thart’s t’one, son. Nay booger off before ye get t’toe o’me clog wedg’d oop tarse.

All right…you get the point. The Lancashire fieldnames book has almost certainly got this one wrong.
By our reckoning (which is what really counts) the ‘berry’ in ‘borty berry, burty berry and barty berry’ refers to a burg. (That’s an ancient enclosed – more often than not fortified – settlement.) Take that other Lancashire Bury, for example. We all know that was originally a burg and not just a small round edible object much sought after by hungry birds.
As for the ‘bor’, ‘bur’ and ‘bar’, clearly they all stem from the same local dialect root ‘bur’, recorded by Thornber as meaning the ‘edge or rim’ of something. I remember when I were nobbut a kid my grandmother warning me when opening a can (this was back in the days when tin openers were none-electronic, dangerously sharp and pointed objects) not to cut myself on the ‘bur’ (that being the jagged strip of metal around the lid).
Therefore all these fields denote the edge of the burg, which makes perfect sense when you come to look at how they relate to the Saxon tenement fields.
So that’d be the burg of Brun then, or to put it another way, Brun Burgh.
Don’t even get me started. I realise nobody wants to believe that Brunanburgh ever took place in Thornton, despite the ancient legend that a huge Norse battle once covered Bourne Hill, so I won’t even go there. Let’s move on…

Right, we’ve coloured in/highlighted a couple more fields for you. In red on the right hand side is Grapy Field. We figured that a name like that would obviously mean something, and, after a huge amount of research (almost three and a half minutes spent on Google) we discovered that Grapy is an Old English/ French word (so that’d be around the Saxon/Norman period then) meaning…er…grape-like. As in, “This tastes rather grapy.”
Exactly what that’s got to do with the field in question I honestly couldn’t say.
The other field highlighted above (in yellow) is Biggins Field. We’re on much safer ground here. Biggins is a Norse word referring to a new house (and not a jolly rotund gay bloke who used to be in Porridge), all of which suggests that between one and one and half thousand years ago some Norse geezer constructed his abode smack bang in the middle of this field.
Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, Biggins Field is nowadays underneath the Wolsey Close, Ingleway, Hampton Place area off Cumberland Avenue, so if you happen to live in one of those closes it might be worth checking your flowerbeds carefully, because you never know what might be in there. Even better, give Wyre Archaeology a bell and we’ll take a gander for you.

Right, a couple more then -- the first being Garlick’s Hey, as highlighted above in blue. Please note the spelling. It’d be easy to assume that this field just south of Hillylaid crossing on Lawson’s Road was where garlic was once grown. Such an assumption would, however, be incorrect. Terry Pratchett knew what he was doing when he named one of his Lancre witches Magrat Garlick, Magrat because her mother couldn’t spell, and Garlick because Garlick is actually a Lancashire dialect word (now mostly fallen out of use, I suspect) meaning ‘Simpleton’.
Then there’s Tinkler’s Hey, which we’ve highlighted in yellow. We’ve no real suggestions for this one except, perhaps, that it’s either a mispronunciation of ‘Tinker’s Hey’ or that it was just one of those fields that was used as a convenience. (Boom boom!)
Lastly (although there are plenty of other fieldnames worth mentioning on this map, such as Mill Hey on the corner of Crabtree Road, which is nowhere near Marsh Mill and therefore suggests that a more ancient mill, no documents for which survive, once stood in the vicinity, but we’re not going to because this article’s gone on way too long as it is) there’s Castle Field, otherwise known as Castle Hill, highlighted below.

To the best of our knowledge no castle has ever stood on, near, or in the vicinity of Castle Hill/Field, which means only thing. Castles were the Saxons’ way of describing ancient fortified earthworks – ancient and ruinous in Saxon times I should point out -- so the chances are, some prehistoric (possibly Roman) settlement once stood here. Not that we’re ever likely to find out now because somebody went and built the ICI right on top of it.
Enough…I’m all field-named out. Time for a change of tack with the next posting I reckon.


Andrew said...

Adding 'new' to Biggin House might be unnecessary then?

Jayne said...

Could that roadway, (or is it a railway? can't tell) that runs along below Castle Field, possibly be a Roman thoroughfare?
Thereby substantiating that there may have been a Roman tollway-type fortified place nearby?
Is Castle Field bounded by a creek/river and, if not, what's made the jigsaw-type of round sticky-out bit, please? Coz it's an odd field boundary shape otherwise.
Hoping Melanie's about if Brian's still out the back of beyond...

History Hunter said...

Hi Jayne

That is indeed the railway shown below the field. I have seen it mentioned that it could have been laid on top of an older road as it follows the higher ground but I'm not to convinced myself. The railway tends to cut the fields along it's length which suggests to me it is fairly new (newly-ish built on this map).

The sticky out bit follows a dyke boundary which is still there today although at some point they have cut across the loop to make it straighter.

Its a shame there is a dirty great building in the middle of it so I suppose we'll never know what was there. The area to the left of castle field on the map is the site of a massive new proposed power generation site so even more is going to be lost soon. It's a shame that ICI owns a large amount of very interesting places in Thornton .. that's progress for you.

Jayne said...

That is a damn shame, Melanie, makes me cross when massive developments have been approved but no one wants to excavate an area before it's all lost beneath miles of concrete.

I have found that "Arley" means 'hare meadow', 'bitter meadow', 'rocky meadow'...judging by the map there's an abundance of rocky, bitter meadows filled with hares for the pot lol.

DaveH said...

'Arley'(there are several Arleys in England) is usually seen as stemming from 'earn' - eagle and 'leah' wood or woodland clearing. So Eagle Wood.
Hares are a fairly recent migrant to England (none in Scotland) - brought maybe by Romans but again probably not to Northern England. Rabbits not recorded in England before 12th Century - probably brought by Normans.

David Ratledge the local Roman Road Expert did suggest that Danes Pad last traced at Puddle House Farm if contuing in same direction would pass very close to Castle Hill where he pointed out a curious rounded corner (like a corner of a fort).

Good Roman Road website: