Some of you may know, or remember, Peter Metcalfe – a friend and colleague of mine at Settle High School. For many years, Peter taught modern languages at the school and, later in his career, he became librarian there. Peter has always been interested in the roots of language and in local history, and in 1992, after a good deal of study and research, he published a short book entitled ‘Places-Names of the Yorkshire Dales’. The book refers to lots of place-names over a wide area but, with Peter’s permission, I’ve extracted some local ones that are relevant to the Rathmell website …..
Rathmell – The Red Sandbank – From the Old Norse words ‘rauthr’ and ‘melr’ spoken by Vikings in the 9-11th centuries. There is a place called Rauthamelr in Iceland which emphasises the Viking origins of the name. An early spelling of the name (1086) was ‘Rodemele’.
Giggleswick – Gikel’s Dairy Farm – From an Old English or Old Norse personal name plus the Old English ‘wic’. Old English was spoken by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5-11th centuries. An early spelling of the name (1086) was ‘Ghigeleswic’.
Long Preston – The Priest’s Farm – From the Old English ‘preost’ and tun’. As Preston is a common name, ‘long’ was added for clarity – the village is a linear settlement. The spelling in 1086 was ‘Prestune’.
Ribble – The Boundary – From the Old English ‘ripel’. The river formed the western boundary of Craven. An early spelling (715) was ‘Rippel’.
Settle – The Dwelling – From the Old English ‘setl’. In 1086 this was recorded as ‘Setel’.
Wham – The Nook, or The Valley – From the Old English ‘hwamm’ or Old Norse ‘hvammr’. Also a common Dales field-name. A 13th century spelling was ‘Quane’.
Wigglesworth – Wincel’s Enclosure – From the Old English; personal name and ‘worth’. An early spelling (1086) was’Winchelesuuorde’.
It might be possible to develop this short article into a more comprehensive list in the future. Peter’s book is now out of print but he still has a few copies remaining ….. you can contact me if you’d like to buy one.