Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Up to Our Ankles in Lud

There are some excellent old names, shrouded in the enigma of dead languages, dialects and atrocious spellings, to be found in crumbling documents. Take the following references to several long lost places around Churchtown, for example, hidden between the pages of the Cockersand Chartulary:

“Pro quibus concessione et confirmacione praedictis: praedicti Abbas et Conventus pro se et successoribus…”

What? You don’t want the Latin version? We’re supposed to translate it for you, is that it? How bone idle can you get? Okay…hold on while I put on my deciphering head:

“Indenture of Covenant witnessing that John, son of John, the tailor of Kirkland, granted and confirmed to the Abbot and Convent of Cockersand and to their successors, that they should wholly take forever the dead wood in Kirkland…”

…bear with us on this, there is a point…

“…according to the intent and purport of the charter granted to them by Sir William de Lancaster, and the deed of gift of the said John, the tailor of Kirkland, and that they should carry away the same…”

…hang on in there folks, we’ll reach it eventually…

“…whenever and whithersoever it should be most convenient, or to their greater profit and advantage, without let or hindrance. In return for this concession, the said Abbot and Convent granted to the said John and to his heirs, liberty to make improvement in certain parcels of wood, waste and pasture in Garstang…”

…I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me, but it is in here somewhere…

“…within the bounds of Kirkland, to wit, in a plot of wood and pasture running widthways between Ounespool…”

…ah, there’s the first one…

“…and Pilling Moss, and commencing lengthways at Humbilscough…

…there’s another…

“…along the moss southward to Wyre, along Wyre to Ounespool, and so up Ounespool northward to the said John's land, along his meadow and arable land to the aforesaid boundary of Humbilscough. Also in four acres of wood and waste, lying lengthways in divers plots, from the site of the said John's manor to the gate called the Ludyate…”

…right, that’s it, that’s what we’re after…

“…leading towards Howath bridge, to wit, below his hedges and arable land…”

…stop, stop! That’ll do nicely pig!

Right, Ounespool and Humbilscough, as recorded in our twelfth century document, are easily translated as Anne’s Pool/Ainspool and Humblescough, both of which are still around today. (And both of which contain some fascinating prehistoric earthworks, I might add, as demonstrated by the aerial photograph of the Humblescough lakeside settlement me, it is on there somewhere.)

But Ludyate…well now, there’s the puzzle.
‘Yate’, of course, is the old pronunciation of ‘Gate’(but you knew that already, didn’t you?) as in a road leading to somewhere, said ‘somewhere’ generally being tagged on before the ‘yate’ itself. (Watery Gate round the back of Beacon Fell, for example, means the road that leads to the water. See, there is some sense to all this.)
So where did Ludyate/Ludgate run, and what was the Lud to which the ‘yate’ was running? (And don’t say it’s in London as an answer to the first part. Yes, there is a Ludgate in London, but obviously it doesn’t stretch all the way to Churchtown in Lancashire, so try not to overstretch yourselves just yet.)
Well, by following some of the clues scattered throughout the document, we can assume that Ludyate ran from Garstang to Kirkland (or Kirklund as the chartulary has it, another interesting name, more about which shortly).
Now then, Howarth (or Howath as the document calls it) at that time covered Bonds, because Bonds didn’t exist, and as the Victoria County History informs us: “Howarth Bridge over the Wyre shows that Howarth extended over all Bonds, though the name is now applied to the southeast corner.”
Howarth Bridge, therefore, was basically the main bridge in Garstang, which in the mediaeval period had a couple of big towers on it apparently, but that’s another story.
So, we have an ancient ‘yate’ running from Garstang Bridge to Kirkland, which was Kirklund back then, which means the ‘church in the scared grove’, (kirk – church, lund – a sacred grove…it’s that simple really) which was probably St Helens, as shown in the photograph below, but we can’t be certain about that, but whatever the case it smacks of Christianity built over an antique pagan site, all of which brings us, circuitously, back to Lud.

So who, or what, was Lud?
There are a couple of possibilities. Let’s start with the first one, because that’s generally the best place to start.
Everybody’s heard of the Luddites, yes? The textile workers who went round destroying mechanical looms during the industrial revolution, led by the fictitious Ned Lud (shown in the illustration below)?

The only problem with them is, they started in 1811, and seeing as our document is dated to the 1190s, they’re unlikely to be connected to it. Let’s put them aside and try something else.
There’s a Lud mentioned in the bible. According to the Book of Genesis he was Noah’s grandson. Now, I realise that Churchtown can be boggy and damp and miserable at the best of times, but the chances of the ark coming to rest on Mount Catterall are so remote that we might as well discount this one as well.
Here’s a slightly more plausible connection. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Lud was a pre-Roman king of Britain, the eldest son of King Heli, and is commonly associated with Lludd Llaw Eraint of Welsh mythology, as well as Nuada Airgetlám, the king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, (or the Isle of Man as it’s more commonly known).
He might also have been connected with the Romano-British god Nodens...apparently.
Yes, you’ve heard of Nodens before, haven’t you? That’s because we’ve mentioned him ourselves in our ‘History of the Wyre from Harold the Elk to Cardinal Allen’. Here’s what we said at the time:

“In the eighteenth century two figurines of the little known Romano-Celtic deity Mars Nodens were unearthed at Cockersands. Mars Nodens was connected with a healing cult and was possibly a sea god. Unfortunately the finds are once again missing, which is a pity as, to the best of our knowledge, there are no other known depictions of Mars Nodens anywhere in Britain.”

Coincidence? I don’t know what you’re asking me for. I haven’t got a clue. King Lud, it seems, is credited with also founding London, which explains their version of Ludgate, but that’s a bit outside our region so let’s not bother going there.
Right, another possible version of lud can be found amongst the Votyaks of Russia (which is even more distant now that I come to think about it) and refers, quite simply, to a sacred grove where sacrifices were performed. Luds, apparently, were surrounded by fences, with a fire and tables for sacrificial meals in the centre. The ceremonies were usually conducted on an ancient tree dedicated to a deity.
Again, coincidence? Kirklund? And again, I haven’t got a clue, but it makes you think, doesn’t it?


Jayne said...

Is it possible Russians (or, rather, their ancestors) were doing trade in that neck of the woods so often that some pitched their tent and set up home, in light of how the repeated invasions of Britain are now thought to be friendly trade and settlements?

Brian Hughes said...


I don't see why not. We've very fond of our vodka round these parts.

John said...

What amazes me is how compact latin is, to get 4 paragraphs of English into 2 sentences? Wow.

And why couldn't Ludyate run all the way to London? There weren't many other places to run to, and using a major metrop as a guide only makes sense, innnit?

i do hope we hear more about those prehistoric earthworks that call to us from your photograph, and more about that bridge with the towers on it would be nice! There's a bridge like that in Bath... except that one's full of shops and stuff. Amazing how anyone could cross bridges in those days with towers and shops and all stuck all over them! Horses would have to suck their guts in, and carry carts on their backs just to squeeze by!

As for the rest of the post, sounds like pure speculation. Amusing, but lacking in depth and substance, like a birdbath with a crack in it.

Still, in these days, i'll take humour over substance anytime!

I tip my hat to you, good sir, scaring the little birdy that was resting upon it, but so what? A small price to pay for demonstrating to you my heartfelt thanks at a posting most pleasant.

Cheers, and pip pip. JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


"As for the rest of the post, sounds like pure speculation."

Speculation? Never! It's all absolute fact based on a thorough sifting of Celtic and otherwise mythology. If it's written in black and white (or, in this case, teal and pale yellow) then it must be true. That's the third law of blagging, is that.

John said...


Man, you internet types are adding to the language everyday!

By the way, did it ever occur to you that Kirklund just means "land around the church"? What's this 'sacred grove' business? You archeologists have got your head in the clouds! I suppose the stars are "God's daisy chain" to you lot.

Next you'll be telling us about fairies and Unicorns and wee little folk prancing about in these sacred groves of yours?

Pshaw! to your sacred groves. i say Archeologists whose knees aren't dirty aren't working hard enough.

Still, your blog beats heck out of all others, so go on wit ya.

Cheerio, and toodles, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


'Blagging' is an old English word (although, presumably not a trans-Atlantic one) meaning to lie with enough conviction and authority as to sound utterly convincing. We archaeologists do it all the time...which is why I'm such an old blaggard myself.

As for dirty knees, mine are always clean because, unlike Phil Harding, I refuse to wear shorts and inflict my legs on an unsuspecting, and frankly, undeserving, public.

John said...

touche', my friend. Touche'

"blaggard"... excellent! Although today it's spelled blackguard, which just goes to show that two peas in a pod don't have to be green.

Thanks for wearing pants,
JOHN :0)

Now, about those prehistoric earthworks? We wait with baited breathe... whatever THAT means...

Brian Hughes said...


As soon as we're given permission to get into those earthworks by the farmers, you can be sure that I'll be posting the results on this board.

Unfortunately, the chances of gaining said permission, I've been told, are highly unlikely. Nonetheless, fingers crossed and all that...

Brian Hughes said...

And, by the way, these days we spell breath without an 'e'...

Brian Hughes said...

Er...without an extra 'e' that is...of course...he adds quickly before he drops himself right in it. (I really ought to stop responding to these comments when I've had too much to drink.)

John said...

"And, by the way, these days we spell breath without an 'e'..."

Oi! Don't get cheeky, Mister 'Blagging'...!

Now tell us more about bridges with towers and stuff, eh? What's with that?

Brian Hughes said...

Ah, well, now...Garstang bridge is very old, you see...mediaeval even...probably...and originally, it seems, it had towers on it.

Tell you what, I'll get Michelle to do some research into the matter and, when it stops snowing/raining long enough to get down to Garstang, we'll take a few photographs and I'll write an article on the subject for this board.

(Which is basically an old blagger's way of saying that I don't have enough information to hand at the moment to discuss it in depth.)

Jayne said...

"Baited breath" = fish breath ewwww.
Unless we're talking salmon and then I'm in like Flynn :P

Hang on, wasn't the original London sited elsewhere at the time when Ludyate would have been new?
So does the current Ludgate in the current London line up or does the old, original London fit in?
And does it involve Queen Bodecia's golden horde ?

Brian Hughes said...


Lud, if memory serves, was supposed to have founded London...which, apparently, is where it gets its name...but we're talking Celtic mythology here, which is confusing, tangled and unpronounceable at the best of times, so who knows?

Lorna Smithers said...

It's possible Nodens is depicted on a headdress found at the site of his temple at Lydney, with winged figures, tritons and anchors. Though he isn't named it's highly likely the headdress depicts him. Intriguing relation between this, Ludyate and the ancient church site.