What’s in a place name?
Peering back through the mists of time, it’s interesting to reflect on the origins of the names of the North East towns and villages we take so much for granted.
Often they are derived from the land – and more often than not the names have greatly evolved over the centuries from the earliest Old English and Norman versions.
Some meanings are more obvious then others.
Northumberland is derived from Northhymbre, the first use of which can be traced back to 867, meaning ‘people who lived North of the Humber’.
Wallsend first got a mention as Wallesende in 1085, and means, as most of us will know, ‘the end of the Roman Wall’.
Below, are 30 well-known Northumberland and Newcastle locations; with the original name of the place, the date it was first mentioned; and a brief explanation behind the name.
Alnmouth/ Alnemnuth 1201/ Mouth of the Aln
Alnwick/ Alnawick 1160/ Farm on the River Aln
Ashington/ Essenden 1205/ Ash tree valley
Backworth/ Buxwortha 1203/ Bacca’s enclosure
Benton/ Bentune 1190/ Coarse grass or bean farm
Benwell/ Bynnewalle 1050/ Beside the Roman Wall
Berwick/ Berewic 1205/ Barley farm
Burradon/ Burwedon 1242/ A hill with a fortification
Callerton/ Caluerduna 1100/ Hill where the calves grazed
Chirton/ Cherlton 1203/ Land belonging to a church
Choppington/ Cebbington 1040/ Ceabba’s named settlement
Cowgate/ Cougate 1290/ Pasture for a cow
Cullercoats/ Culvercoats 1600/ Dove cotes
Denton/ Dentuna 1252/ Valley farm
Earsdon/ Erdesdon 1233/ Eored’s hill
Farne Islands/ Fame 730/ Settled by people from afar
Fawdon/ Faudon 1242/ Multi-coloured hill
Fenham/ Fennum/ Meadow by the fen
Gosforth/ Goseford 1166/ Goose ford
Haltwhistle/ Hautwisel 1240/ Place where streams join by the hill
Heaton/ Heyton 1138/ High settlement
Jesmond/ Gesemue 1205/ Mouth of the Ouseburn
Kenton/ Kinton 1242/ A royal manor
Monkseaton/ Seton Monachorum 1380/ Sea farm belonging to the monks of Tynemouth
Newbiggin by the Sea/ Niwebiginga 1187/ New building or house
Otterburn/ Oterburn 1217/ Otter stream
Ouseburn/ Jhesam, Yese 1293/ Gushing river
Riding Mill/ Ryding 1262/ Mill in a clearing
North Shields/ Nortscelis 1273/ Temporary huts for fishermen
Stamfordham/ Stanfordham 1188/ Settlement at the stony ford
From the book Place Names and Field Names of Northumberland by Stan Beckensall. Fonthill Media. £18.99
Source : Chroniclelive