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Meaning behind the name; From Murder Path to Goat's Head - MIKE KELLY looks into how some of our towns and villages got their names.

HAVE you ever wondered how your village, town or city got its name? The reasons vary from the fanciful like identifying where Bison used to roam; the sinister with talk of a murder path; to the mundane - Wallsend is pretty self-explanatory.

In general, places were originally named according to landscape features, the nature of settlement and the name of the people or tribe living there.

They were modified over time through language shifts caused by political change.

While British history didn't start with the Celts, it was the Celtic tribes which arrived during the Iron Age who were the first to give a clear linguistic contribution that has lasted to modern times.

Two-thirds of England's rivers take their names from Celtic and even today, many hills and rivers have kept their Celtic names - especially in the North East. However in the North East the influence of the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Scandinavians, and Normans is also evident.

Alnwick This means farm on the River Aln. The word wick for farm can be of Anglo-Saxon or Viking origin, but in Alnwick's case it is more likely to be Anglo-Saxon.

Ashington There are a few possibilities but we'll stick to this one. The Saxon invader AEsc sailed from Northern Germany to the River Wansbeck and settled in the deep wooded valley near Sheepwash. The suffix "ington" denotes a settlement (usually a farm) belonging to an Anglo Saxon. This explains Bedlington, Choppington, Cramlington, Barrington, Whittington, Acklington, Stannington and the like.

Bamburgh Means 'Bebba's fortification'. It was named after Northumbrian King Aethfrith of Bernicia's queen - Bebba. A burh is a fortified place.

Beamish is one of a number of place names in County Durham containing the Norman French word 'beau' meaning beautiful or fine. Places containing this element are often noted for there natural beauty.

Turn to Page 26 From Page 25 The name Beamish derives from Beau-mis meaning beautifully placed or beautiful mansion, the second element being the Old French Mes or Metz.

Berwick Barley farm - made up of the Anglo-Saxon 'bere' (barley) and 'wick' which we identified before as meaning a farm.

Chillingham Literally means 'Homestead or village of Cheul's people'.

It starts with the family name, 'ingas' means 'the people called after' and finally 'ham' is an Old English (OE) word for a village community, a manor, an estate, or a homestead.

Glanton Most likely to mean Hawk Hill - 'glente' is an OE word for a bird of prey and dun means hill.

Beadnell Literally 'Bede's nook of land' starting with the name followed by 'halh', an OE word for a nook of land. Not thought to be the Venerable Bede however.

Cresswell Means 'cress spring or stream'. Caerse is OE for cress or water-cress and well means a spring or a stream.

Morpeth Comes from the OE "Morthpaeth", with the literal meaning of 'murderpath'. It was either scene of the notorious killing, so far unidentified, or a place well known for murderous attacks by bandits and robbers.

Wallsend Very straightforward. 'Wall's end'. This was the location of the Roman fort called Segedunum, which means 'strong fortification' or 'victory fortification'. This fort protected the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall, which terminated at the western wall of the fort.

Newcastle Named after the castle built in 1080 by Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son, following which it became known as Novum Castellum or New Castle. The wooden structure was replaced by a stone castle in 1087.

The castle was rebuilt again in 1172 during the reign of Henry II. Much of the keep which can be seen in the city today dates from this period.

Longbenton Either, 'bent-grass farm/settlement' or 'bean farm/settlement'. 'Long' to distinguish from Littlebenton.

'Beonet' is OE for bent grass, bean means the same as today, while 'ton' means an enclosure, a farmstead, a village or an estate.

Wark Based on the Old English word weorc which means 'fortification'.

South Shields Originated from the OE words 'schele' or 'shield', which mean a temporary small dwelling used by fishermen. South was used to distinguish it from North Shields Gateshead The Venerable Bede, writing of Gateshead in Saxon times, described the place as Ad Caprae Caput.

This name translates as Goat's Head - or headland. (FYI the heads of goats and other animals were often fixed on poles as the symbol of a meeting place.) Whickham Literally, hedge around a village - 'cwic' being OE for a quickset hedge and 'ham' meaning a village or homestead.

Sunderland Sundor-land is OE for land set apart for some special purpose, private land, detached land.

Chester-le-Street Literal meaning is 'Roman site on the Roman road'. Ceaster is OE for a Roman site; le (from the French) for 'the'. The 'street' refers to the paved Roman road that ran north-south through the town and is now called Front Street.

Durham Means 'Hill island'. Dun is OE for a hill, holmr (Old Norse) for an island, an inland promontory, raised ground in marsh, a river-meadow.

Urpeth Finally - and somewhat unusually - its translation is 'The bison's path'. The bison was found throughout Europe until the 16th Century when it was largely, or entirely in Britain, replaced by cattle, which were more efficient animals for all purposes of farming.

Ur is OE for a bison and as we revealed earlier with Morpeth, paeth is the word for path.



The Castle Keep, Newcastle

Morpeth High Street
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2016
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