top of page

Field and Place Names​

The names of buildings, fields and other locations within Rylstone can tell us something of past or present uses of land, or of associations with people or events. Some historic names can still be seen today on buildings or on modern Ordnance Survey maps. Others can only be found in older documents, such as the records of the Tithe Apportionment of 1839. In that apportionment, each field or other property had its name and description recorded in both map and list form. Field names can indicate some use or feature of the land (past or present), often in words derived from Viking or Old English terms.

The list below is of some field or property names within Rylstone together with possible meanings or origins of the names. Most of the names listed were included in the Tithe Apportionment of 1839, and the associated maps. The meanings suggested are not definitive. There could be other reasons for particular names, and names and records can be distorted over time. Local residents or landowners may have knowledge which provides alternative explanations. Names could derive from the name of a previous land owner or occupier, even if they seem to be based on some physical characteristic.

Local names and possible origins

(See key below for some reference abbreviations)

BECK (eg Calton Gill Beck, Hetton Beck): A word for a brook or mountain stream, from Old Norse 'bekkr' (COD).

BUCKER (as in High and Low Bucker House, off Boss Moor Lane): 'Bucca' or 'bucc' was Old English for a buck, a male deer or goat. Arthur Raistrick suggests that Bucker is derived from " Bucross" or " Bu Cross", an Irish cross name brought in by Norsemen migrating from the North of Ireland.(AR)

BURTON (as in Burton House, just west of the railway): The name could be from Old English 'burhtun' meaning fortified farmstead of farmstead near a fortification.

BUTTS: This has long had the meaning of a shooting range or practice area for guns or bows. A small field north of the church and between the Cracoe Road and Chapel Lane is named as Laith Butts on the 1839 Tithe map.

COON (as in Coonlands Hill, between the railway and Fleets Lane): 'Coon' can refer to a cone shape.

COPY: A term used to denote a coppice or, sometimes, a spring (Redmonds).

CLOSE: Suggests an area or route closed off, from Old French 'clos'. Eighteenth century records of land holdings make reference to a number of 'closes', e.g. Old Close (1701), Willow Raynes Closes and Moorlands Close (1712), Well Close, Burgle Closes and Gaile Closes (1731) (Notes on the research of Raistrick by Catherine Harrison). The 1839 Tithe record shows 'Snell Close' as the large field on the right just before entering the village from the south.

CROFT (as in High Croft or Turn Croft Plantations, south of the village): A croft in medieval settlements was a small enclosed field, used for pasture or arable and often long and narrow, adjoining a 'toft', the area of land on which the associated homestead was built. The 1839 Tithe records identify at least 11 crofts by name ringed closely around the buildings north and south of the mill pond, with a Hepper Croft on the west side of what is now the main road to Skipton, just south of the lane to the church.

CRUTCHARD and CRUTCHING (as in Crutching Close, east of the village). Either or both of these names could be derived from the Old English 'crouche', meaning a cross, or Old English 'crycc', related to the Norse word 'krykkj', meaning crook or crutch (Colliers English Dictionary).

DIKE THORN (the Tithe Map name for a field on the north side of the road to Hetton [Raikes Lane] and west of the railway): Dike can be a variation of dyke' (Old Norse 'dyk'), meaning a long wall or embankment to prevent flooding, or a ditch. 'Thorn' could simply be a reference to a thorn tree.

FELL (as in Hall Fell): This was a Viking term for a hill or mound.

FLEETS: The word 'fleet' can be derived from the Old English 'fleot' meaning (place at) the stream, pool or creek (ODBPN).

FOSSE: Can mean ditch or trench. The word comes from Middle English, and the Latin 'fossa' (COD).

GARFORTH : 'Garforth' could have meant 'ford of a man called Gaera', or 'ford at the triangular plot of ground' (ODBPN). Two fields on the eastern side of Boss Moor Lane, just before the Township boundary and Lainger House, are named as Garforth Close in the 1839 Tithe Awards record.

GARTH: 'Garth' is a Viking term for enclosure. Two small fields opposite the church were identified in the 1839 Tithe Apportionment as Lower and Upper Calf Garth. There is also a record of a Rylstone resident, Thomas Garth, giving evidence in 1560 in one of a series of judicial hearings in York relating to a dispute about the keeping and hunting of deer between the Clifford family and the Nortons. Thomas based his evidence on information passed down from his grandfather, the master forester in the 15th century.

GATE (as in Mill Gate Laithe, south-west of the village): Could be derived from the Norse word 'gata' meaning street, road or path (COD).

GILL (as in Waterfall Gill): A Viking term for a ravine or valley.

HAGG: This can be Scottish or Northern English dialect for a soft place on a moor or a firm place in a bog, or can relate to coppicing. Possibly from Old Norse, hogg, meaning gap, but originally a cutting blow, related to 'hew' (COD).

HAW: A word for the fruit of the hawthorn, from Old English of Germanic origin, 'haga' (COD). 'Haw' can also mean a hill. Two fields on the west (lefthand) side of the B6265 just past Mucky Lane were named as 'Near Hall Haw' and 'Far Haw Hills'  in the1839 Tithe Apportionment.

HIDE: A 'hide' (Old English 'hid' or 'hyd') was the area of land to support one free  family and its dependants, usually between 60 and 120 acres (ODBPN and COD). 'Hide Croft' was in 1839 the (incongruous) name for one of two crofts of much less than 60 acres which occupied what is now one larger field on the left hand side of the road just before entering the village from the south.

LAITHE: A word of Viking origin for a barn, usually designed to house cattle with fodder storage above. The name is still in use for most barns in Rylstone.

LANGHILL: 'Lang' in Old English ('langr' in Old Norse) meant 'long' (ODBPN). Langhill Pasture was the name given in the 1839 Tithe records to a field containing Long Gill Beck and just west of Boss Moor Lane. The same records show a field slightly further north as 'Langhill Hill', an exercise in tautology.

RAKE(S): 'Rake' is Old English for (place at) the hollow or pass.

RAIKES (as in Raikes Lane, the road to Hetton): can mean a sheep road. In the 1839 Tithe records, the name 'raikes' was used for two (still existing) fields just within the township in the elbow formed by the junction of Raikes Lane with the Hetton - Cracoe road.

SCALE  Norse word for hall. Scale is also possibly derived from the "sheiling" or shelter of a cattle or sheep herder Collins English Dictionary suggests a link between a Middle English word "shale" meaning a hut , and "sheiling".

SKEWE: 'Skewen' was a Middle English word meaning not symmetrical, to to make slanting or oblique, from Norman French 'eskiuer' (Webster’s New World College Dictionary). 'Middle Skewe' is the name assigned in the 1839 record to a roughly triangular area at the extreme southern end of the Township, east of the main road, the railway and Sandy Beck.

Abbreviations for References:

AR: Raistrick, Arthur (1967) Old Yorkshire Dales . 199pp. Chapter 2. Newton Abbott: David and Charles Ltd.

COD: Thompson, D. (Ed.). (1995) The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Ninth edition. 1696 pp. Hardback. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

ODBPN: Mills, A. D. (2003). The Dictionary of British Place Names. 576 pp. Paperback. Oxford: Oxford University Press. On-line version published in 2011.

Redmonds: Redmonds, G. (2004). Names and History. People, Places and Things. 258pp. Hardback. London: Hambledon and London.

bottom of page