Saturday, 10 March 2018

What's in a name?

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle around here over the past week or so on account of the fact that two of our local radio stations have been swallowed up by a big corporation and have consequently changed their names.  The Bay is now Heart and Lakeland Radio is now Smooth.  I'm pretty sad about it to be honest as they just don't feel local anymore.  When I was driving home up the M6 I used to get excited around about Preston as I jabbed at the radio dial trying to find The Bay to welcome me home - I can listen to Heart anywhere these days but I could only listen to The Bay at home.  It got me thinking about names and how important they are to us, so here are a few stories behind the names of local landmarks which we've discovered as we've researched our books.

Scafell Pike

Heading out to Scafell Pike
It's more the pronunciation of this which causes the problem with most folks either in the Scawfell or Scarfell camps, though there are plenty of Scaffel fans too.  The original name comes from ancient Norse and translates as "Bald Summit" and for our 50 Gems of Cumbria book we tracked down a couple of experts in ancient Norse to hear how it should be pronounced - but if you want to know what
they had to say then you'll have to read the book!  What I can tell you is that up until the 1800's the term "Scawfell" (as it was then written) referred to a collection of 4 peaks in the general area, including what is now known as Scafell Pike - although that name didn't really begin to catch on until the early 1900's.

Jenny Brown's Point

This is a popular spot near Silverdale with an equally popular story surrounding its name.  Local folklore tells us that it is named after a nanny who rescued the children in her charge from drowning at that spot.  Chances are this isn't the case and there's no evidence to back up the story,  What we do know is that in the 1600's a woman named Jenny Brown was named as a beneficiary in a will and lived in a house in the area, but it's still not clear why the point is named after her.  There's also a lot of debate as to what purpose the chimney served; Morecambe Bay Partnership are doing a lot of archaeological work to get to the bottom of that one and you can follow their updates here.


Bat Cave?
There are at least three Borrowdale's in Cumbria and probably more - the name means "valley with fort" so if you find a Borrowdale you'll most likely find the remains of a fort somewhere nearby.  We've written many times about "the other Borrowdale" just north of Kendal (Kendal = Kent Dale) which has the remains of a Roman fort buried under a field at the far end of the valley.  It is a beautifully deserted place to walk just about any time of the year although I have my suspicions that the Bat Cave may be nearby...

Haggs Wood

The "Kirk" in Kirkby Lonsdale
There are a lot of Haggs in Cumbria, and I'm not being rude.  A "hagg" or "hag" was the name given to a bunch of fodder, typically holly, which was fed to sheep over the winter.  Apparently if you take the branches higher up they're not so prickly and the sheep don't mind them.  The word "holly" often evolved into "Hollins" and explains the number of "Hollins Farms" in the region.


Not surprising that there's loads of these too as it means "village with a church" - Kirkby Lonsdale, Kirkby Stephen and Kirkby-in-Furness (Furness means "rump shaped headland" so now you know!)  Kirk is the "church" part and Kirkstone Pass got its name from a large stone towards the top which looks like a church steeple are you approach - you'll probably need to drive over 2 or 3 times before you spot the stone but once you spot it, it's easy to see how it got its name.

There are TONS of interesting and unusual facts crammed into our books - buy them, read them, and impress your friends with all the things you know. Click the pic to find out more & order yours.  😀

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