Geordie Dictionary | Dialect Origins | 'Mackems' and Jamies (Sunderland)

North East Surnames | Border Reivers: Robsons, Armstrongs, Charltons...

North East Place-Name origins: (A-D) | (E-J) | (K-O) | (P-S) | (T-Y)

Place-Name Meanings P to S


P Pelaw to Prudhoe

Pelaw (Tyneside)

Pelaw near Gateshead and near Durham could derive from peel law, a hill with a watch tower on the top. Pelaw is near Pelton which suggests that a personal name Pel may be a factor. See also Tow Law.

Pelaw Wood (County Durham)

See Pelaw, Tyne and Wear

Pelton (County Durham)

See Pelaw

Pennines (County Durham)

The Pennines are first mentioned in an eighteenth century chronicle supposedly made by a medieval monk called Richard of Cirecncester, but the work is a forgery. We have no early recorded name for the Pennines which is amazing when we consider that these hills form the most siginficant upland region in England. It is possible that the name itself is a forgery and that the name has stuck. It is worth remembering that the ancient British and Welsh word for hill was Pen, but we cannot be certain of the antiquity of the name of the Pennines.

Penshaw (Wearside)

The first part is possibly the Welsh word Pen meaning hill. Shaw could mean woodland, but early spellings of the name are Pencher.

Peterlee (County Durham)

Peterlee is a new town built in 1948 to house miners from nearby villages in the Easington district. The town is named after a former miner and trade union leader called Peter Lee (1864-1935), who became the leader of England's first all Labour County Council at Durham in 1909. Mr Lee was born at the local colliery village of Trimdon Grange and started work at the age of ten as a pony driver at Littletown Colliery near Durham City. In 1886 he emigrated to the United States and worked in Ohio , Kentucky and Pennsylvania before returning to County Durham in 1887. Peterlee town was named after Mr Peter Lee at the suggestion of the former engineer and surveyor of Easington Rural District Council, Mr C.W.Clark. The new town of Peterlee incorporates the site of an ancient abandoned medieval village called Yoden which lay near to where the Eden Lane playing fields are sited today.

Philadelphia (Wearside)

See Quebec

Piercebridge (County Durham)

Piercebridge was recorded as Persebrig in 1104 and Priestbrigg in 1577. Brigg is an old word for a bridge and there has been a bridge at Piercebridge since Roman times. The meaning of the name is a matter of dispute and there are three main theories. One theory is that this was the site of a bridge built or owned by someone called Piers, but Piers is a French name and there is evdidence that the name of Piercebridge predates Norman French settlement. 'Bridge of the priest' is possible, but the form Priestbrigg is quite late, leaving the theory that the name is in fact Pershe - bridge - meaning 'the bridge of Osier twigs', but of course all of the theories may be wrong. The present bridge at Piercebridge is 260 yards upstream from the point where the original Roman bridge crossed the River Tees. Significant visible remains of the wooden Roman bridge were washed away by a great flood in 1771. It was here that the Roman road called Dere Street crossed the Tees on its way from York to Newstead on the River Tweed. At Piercebridge Dere Street formed the Via Principalis or main street of a Roman fort called Magis or Morbium. Much of the present village including the village green ocuupies the site of this fort, while the nearby 'tofts' are on the site of a vicus or Roman civilian settlement which lay just outside the boundaries of the Roman fort. A number of Roman finds, notably coins and a bronze statue of two oxen and a ploughman have been found at Piercebridge, the latter displayed in the British Museum. Some of the Roman stones used in the building of the fort were later used in the construction of the church at nearby Gainford.

Pittington (County Durham)

An Anglo-Saxon name meaning Pidda's peoples' farm.

Pity Me (County Durham)

It has been suggested Pity Me was the site of a small lake or 'mere' and that the name means Petit Mere, Petty Mere or Peaty Mere. A more fanciful suggestion is that St Cuthberts coffin was dropped here by wandering monks on their way to Durham. The miracle working saint is said to have pleaded with the monks to be more careful and take pity on him. Another suggestion is that Pity Me is the cry of the Peewits (or Lapwings) which inhabit the area. Other Pity Mes can be found in the north of England, including a small place near Barrasford in the North Tyne valley, and a Pity Me near Bradbury in south Durham. The name of Tynedale's Pity Me is said to be a corruption of the Celtic words Beddan Maes meaning Field of Graves. There are a number of other theories for the Pity Mes in Durham and Northumberland, but the most likely explanantion is that it was used to describe poor quality farmland. It was therfore perhaps a field name given by a farmer to help identify a particularly field that was difficult to farm. Sometimes these fields are known as 'Fatherless Fields' for reasons which I will leave to the imagination. (See also Quebec).

Pity Me (Northumberland)

See Pity Me, Durham.

Pont, River (Northumberland)

Related to the Welsh word Pant meaning valley.

Ponteland (Northumberland)

An old village swallowed up by an expanding modern town. The name means land by the River Pont or an island formed by it.

Port Clarence (Teesside)

Port Clarence at the northern terminus of the famous Transporter Bridge owes its origin to the Victorian entrepreneur Christopher Tennant who developed the Clarence Railway here between 1828 and 1833. Chrisopher Tennant had named Port Clarence and the Clarence Railway after William the Duke of Clarence, who later became King William IV. The Clarence Railway linked coal mines in south Durham with coal staithes on the River Tees. The staithes were known as the Clarence staithes and became the site of Port Clarence. Port Clarence rivaled the newly born port at Middlesbrough on the opposite side of the Tees.

Portobello (Tyneside)

See Quebec

Portrack (Teesside)

Site of a loop in the River Tees which was made redundant by a cut or canal. Here heavy ships were pulled by ropes to the port of Stockton. This was known as tracking - hence Portrack.

Pounteys Lane (County Durham)

The name of a lane at Middleton St George. It leads to the site of Pons Tesie - the name of a Roman bridge that crossed the Tees here. The Roman name Pons Tesie means bridge of Tees. Pountey's Lane, a corruption of this name, follows the course of a Roman road.

Preston (Tyneside)

See Preston on Tees

Preston le Skerne (County Durham)

Situated on the River Skerne. See also Preston on Tees.

Preston on Tees (Teesside)

Preston Hall at Preston on Tees was not built until 1825 when the building was erected by David Burton Fowler. It was in that year that the Stockton and Darlington Railway was built and the line ran close to the grounds of the hall. A famous race between Locomotion Number One and a stagecoach is said to have taken place along this stretch of the line but the victor is unrecorded. In 1882 Preston passed into the hands of Robert Ropner of Stockton and in the following century the hall was acquired by Stockton Borough Council who opened it as a museum. Before 1825 there was no hall at Preston but the manor had belonged to the Eden family in the eighteenth century and the Seton and Sayer families from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. At the time of the Boldon Buke, the manor was owned by among others Orm, son of Cockett and Adam son of Walter de Stockton. The very first owner of the manor of Preston is not known but the name gives us a clue. Preston derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon Prest-Ton meaning priest farm, a farm belonging to a priest. It is one of several Prestons found throughout the country which include Preston le Skerne on the River Skerne north of Darlington, Preston near North Shields, Preston Pans (Salt Pans) in Scotland and Preston on the River Ribble in Lancashire. All these Prestons will have originally belonged to a priest, as did Prestwick in Strathclyde and Prestwich near Manchester. Prestatyn in Wales is a Welsh interpretation of the English name Preston.

Prudhoe (Northumberland)

An Anglo-Saxon name meaning Prud's spur of land.

Q Quaking Houses to Quebec

Quaking Houses (County Durham)

At South Moor near Stanley is the former colliery village of Quaking Houses which is one of a number of puzzling place names in the old pit district of County Durham. The only clue to the name is that a pit called Quaker House Pit once stood near this site, recorded in 1873 as a pit with two shafts. The name of this pit suggests that the present place name may derive from some kind of Quaker Meeting House located somewhere in the area. Later, a street of houses called Quaking House Cottages were built near the pit to house the miners. Perhaps the real answer to the question of Quaking Houses may be found a little further north at Annfield Plain where a farm called Quaking House, was marked on the 1865 Ordnance Survey map. A colliery railway line called the Quaking House Branch line ran past this farm and terminated at the Quaker House Pit, but this leaves the question how did the farm get its name ?

Quarrington Hill (County Durham)

The first part of the name is a corruption of Quern-Dun - the hill where Quern stones were excavated. Hill has been added when dun changed to ton.

Quebec (County Durham)

This village near Esh Winning is one of a number of places in the North East which take their names from other parts of the world. Quebec was a mining village and apparently named because the fields in the area were enclosed in 1759, the year General Wolfe captured Quebec from the French in Canada. It is not unusual for fields to be named after foreign towns and places and often occurs where fields were situated at a considerable distance from their home farm. Thus fields could have names suggesting remoteness like Botany Bay or Nova Scotia. This kind of name has also gained prominence in the North East because they were topical names for nineteenth century coal mining or ironstone villages. North East place names which may fall into this category include New York near Whitley Bay, Toronto near Bishop Auckland, Philadelphia near Houghton le Spring and Canada which is part of Chester-le-Street. California can be found in North Yorkshire where it is part of the village of Great Ayton and is also found in Cleveland as a district of Eston in Middlesbrough. When far off field names were not available battles or places connected with the Boer War or Crimean War could also provide a source for naming Durham's nineteenth century villages. Thus we have Bloemfontein near Stanley, Portobello near Birtley from a Battle of 1739, and Inkerman near Tow Law, named from the 1854 Crimean War Battle of Inkerman. With imagination it is quite possible to travel the whole world without leaving the North East.

R Raby Castle to Rothbury

Raby Castle (County Durham)

Raby Castle near Staindrop, stands near a Roman road and has ancient origins. The castle is largely medieval, but history records that Canute, the Viking King of Denmark, Norway and England (1017-1035), owned a mansion in the area. Nearby Staindrop, a Viking place name meaning stony settlement, is recorded as the place belonging to Canute, but some believe the oldest portions of Raby Castle formed Canute's home. Raby's Viking name derives from Rey-by, the boundary village. It is one of the northernmost Viking by or village place names in eastern England. Perhaps Raby stood on the northern boundary of Canute's British territory. Roman roads were often used by Vikings and Saxons as boundary marks. On Stainmore, near Teesdale, there is an ancient stone cross called the Rey Cross. This means boundary cross and stands near the A66 which follows the course of a Roman road here. Rey Cross like Raby formed a boundary between Dark Age territories, but also resembles Raby in its association with a Viking king. Rey Cross marks the spot where Eric Bloodaxe, King of Jorvik was murdered in the year 954 AD. Eric was murdered in an ambush by Maccus an agent of the powerful Saxon Earl of Bamburgh who disagreed with Eric's claim to all the land north of the River Tees. Eric's death crushed the Viking Kingdom of York and severely reduced the power of the Vikings in the north until the crowning of King Canute in 1017.

Ravensworth (Tyneside)

Ravensworth a village situated close to the A66 between Barnard Castle and Scotch Corner and was also the name of a castle which existed in the Team valley near Gateshead. Both Ravensworths belonged at one time to a person or persons called Hrafn or Hraefn. Ravensworth Castle, near Gateshead was demolished in 1953, but was a one time home of the Liddell and Gascoigne families. In earliest times it was a 'worth', or an enclosed settlement belonging to Hraefn. Most places ending in 'worth' are Anglo-Saxon in origin and refer to an enclosed settlement of some kind. Ravensworth, North Yorkshire, however does not have this meaning as Ravensworth Near Gateshead because its early recorded forms are Rafneswad, Ravenswat and Ravenswath. This name seems to mean the wath belonging to Hraefn. Wath was the Viking word for a ford and would suggest that the stream that passes through the centre of Ravensworth village was forded in Viking times. The similar Viking place name Ravensthorpe meaning Hraefn's farm occurs in West Yorkshire and Northamptonshire but some place names beginning in 'Raven' are likely to refer to the bird of that name. Ravenscar between Scarborough and Whitby means Ravensker the rock of the raven, from the Viking word Sker. Other Raven names include Ravenseat in Swaledale, the seat or hill of the raven and Ravenglass in Cumbria which derives from the Celtic Rann Glas meaning the part share of land belonging to someone called Glas.

Redcar (Teesside)

Redcar seems to have been situated in pooorly drained land as 'car', the second part of the name derives from the Viking word Kjar meaning marshland. Neighbouring Marske, also betrays boggy origins as its name is a Scandinavian pronunciation of the English word marsh. Redcar, called Redker in 1165, Ridkere in 1407 and Readcar in 1653 means either the red coloured marshland from the red stone in the area, or reedy marsh. The second is quite likely as the word reed often occurs as 'red' in English place names. In 1510 Redcar was described as a 'Poore Fishing Toune' and was for many centuries overshadowed by its neighbour Coatham which held a market and fair from 1257. Coatham's name derives from Cot -Ham and means the shelter homestead. It was perhaps a place where fishing boats took shelter from the stormy seas. Coatham was one of the most important fishing villages in the area and in 1801 it had a population of 680 people. Comparable population figures in the district show that 993 people lived at Hartlepool, 167 at Thornaby and only 25 people lived at Middlesbrough. Redcar rose from obscurity in 1846 when an extension of the Stockton and Darlington Railway brought industry and seaside day trippers to the area. Redcar quickly expanded and soon absorbed Coatham. A further extension of the railway to Saltburn in 1861 stimulated the population growth there and although the building of Saltburn Pier in 1868 was a major attraction, Redcar's racecourse, opened in 1872 ensured that day-trippers continued to flock. Industrial growth in the late eighteenth century came in the form of ironworks and later steelworks of which the most prominent were those of Dorman and Long. In the following century Dorman and Long built a new town called Dormanstown right on Redcar's doorstep to accomodate the expanding workforce of the district and add further to the population of the Redcar area.

Rede, River (Northumberland)

This may be an Anglo-Saxon name describing reedy beds in the river.

Redheugh (Tyneside)

A corruption of Reed Haugh, the flat meadowland where reeds grew

Redmarshall (County Durham)

Originally Reedmerehill, the hill by a reedy lake.

Redworth (County Durham)

A farm where reeds grew.

Rey Cross (County Durham)

Situated on Stainmore. See Raby Castle

Rokeby (County Durham)

A Viking name meaning Hrocca's village

Romaldkirk (County Durham)

Romaldkirk is a picturesque little village, with a nearby stream called the Beer Beck. The village is on the south bank of the River Tees in County Durham, but should really be in Yorkshire. A huge portion of south Teesdale was taken from Yorkshire and moved into County Durham during the local government reforms of the 1970s. Only the north bank of Teesdale is truly County Durham. Romaldkirk means the church of St Rumwald. The word Kirk is an alternative word for church, used in northern England and Scotland. Romaldkirk's church known as the cathedral of the dales is dedicated to St Rumwald, about whom we know very little because of his short life. Rumwald was the son of a Northumbrian king, and is said to have spoken on the very first first day of his life, crying out the words I am a Christian. With such a miracle, there was no hesitation in having the baby prince baptised, but despite his remarkable talent for learning speech, he was unable to hold onto life and died of ill health two days later. St Romwald's resting place is recorded as Buckingham, but there may be some connection with Romaldkirk, which the history books have not recorded.

Rookhope (County Durham)

A valley or hope frequented by rooks or similar crows. This Weardale side-valley was the setting for the Rookhope Ryde a famous border raid which took place in 1569

Roseberry Topping (Teesside)

There is an old saying When Roseberry Topping wears a cap, let cleveland then beware of a clap which is a recognition that the cloud-topped summit of this famous landmark could result in a heavy clap or shower of rain. Roseberry Topping is sometimes known as The cleveland Matterhorn because of its distinctive shape and is steeped in local legend. In olden times the hill was closely associated with the Vikings and the word Topping comes from Toppen an Old Danish word for a hill. Roseberry is a corrupted name which derives in an unexpected way from the nearby settlement of Newton-under-Roseberry. It is known that the original Old Norse name for Roseberry Topping was Odins-Beorg meaning Odins Hill. Odin was the most important Viking God and it is possible that Roseberry was a centre for his worship in Pagan times. Over the years, the name Odinsberg gradually changed to Othensberg, Ohenseberg, Ounsberry and Ouesberry. Association with the village then called Newton-under-Ouseberry at the foot of the hill led to the modern name Roseberry when the final R of under produced the initial letter of the modern name. Newton under Ouseberry is now called Newton under Roseberry. Incidentally the Norse God Odin is still remembered by his alternative Saxon name of Woden from which the name of Wednesday (Wodens Day) derives.

Rothbury (Northumberland)

This means Rotha's settlement

S Sacriston to Sunderland

Sacriston (County Durham)

Sacriston was historically Segersten or Segersten Heugh. Early recorded spellings of the name include Serysteyn Hogh in 1312, Sackerston Heughe in 1577 and Segerston Hough in 1637. A Heugh or Hough is a spur of land which in this case belonged to the Sacristan of Durham Cathedral. The Sacristan was the man responsible for looking after vestments and sacred vessels and was often responsible for cleaning and repairs. One of the most famous Sacritans of Durham was the relic collector called Aelfred who pinched the Venerable Bede's bones from Jarrow in 1022 and brought them to Durham. Sacriston, north of Durham was the site of a country manor belonging to the Sacristan of Durham and the site was occupied by Sacriston Heugh Farm which stood near to Sacriston Colliery. The medieval remains of the Sacristan's manor were demolished in 1955 and the colliery was closed in 1985. Sacriston, the village really takes its name from the nearby Segerston Heugh, but the whole place is still often known as Seggersten. This name comes from the old French word 'Segrestein' an Old French form of the Latin word Sacristanus or 'as sacred'. The word Sexton has the same root. A French connection can also be found at nearby Witton Gilbert, pronounced with a soft g. Here the one time owner was a certain Norman French gentleman called Gilbert de la Ley.

Sadberge (County Durham)

A stone on Sadberge village green proclaims that Queen Victoria was Queen of Britain, Empress of India and Countess of Sadberge. The description is accurate, as Sadberge was once the name of a separate earldom stretching from Hartlepool to Middleton in Teesdale and had its origin as a Viking wappentake. Wappentakes were places where weapon taking Vikings would assemble to discuss the affairs of the district. The name of Sadberge is Viking and derives from the Old Norse Set Berg meaning flat-topped hill. Set Berg is a place name found in Iceland, Norway and in Cumbria where it occurs in the form Sedbergh.

Salt Holme (Teesside)

A holme, land near a river infested by salt water.

Saltburn by the Sea (Teesside)

Saltburn can trace its history to at least 369 AD when the Romans built a watchtower at Huntcliff overlooking the sea. This was in the later days of the Roman Empire, when there was a serious danger of barbarian coastal raids and Huntcliff was one of a series of watchtowers protecting the Yorkshire coast. By 410 AD the Romans had deserted Britain, which was left to the mercy of raiding Anglo-Saxons from Germany and Denmark. Saltburn's Roman tower was defended by a group of Romanised Britons, who met with a sad end. The raiders brutally murdered them all and dumped their bodies in a nearby well, where they were finally discovered in an excavation in 1923. The skeletons of fourteen people, men women and children were found and were clearly the victims of murder. The responsible Anglo-Saxons, or another group like them, settled the Cleveland coast and named a local stream 'Sealt-Burna' meaning the salty stream, perhaps from its salty water or because of the salt-like alum found in the neighbourhood. Vikings came three centuries later and changed the names of all the local burns to becks. The settlement on the Salt Burn retained its name, but the stream became the Skelton Beck. The little fishing village of Saltburn grew beneath the prominent Cat Nab. It was a small place, famed for smuggling and fishing until 1860, when the Stockton and Darlington Railway was extended to the site and Henry Pease of Darlington set about the development of the Victorian coastal resort of Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

School Aycliffe (County Durham)

Aycliffe has a Saxon name meaning oak clearing - (Originally called Acley) and was a felled area in a great oak woodland that stood in the district. Later part of Saxon Aycliffe was acquired by a Viking called Scule who is remembered in the name School Aycliffe. Scula or Scule was given extensive tracts of land in south Durham by the Viking Ragnald, as a reward for military service in the year 920 AD. King Ragnald and his warrior general Scule were Irish Vikings who invaded the north of England from their colonial base in Dublin, Ireland. Ragnald seized York from the Danes and appointed himself king of all the Vikings in Britain.

Scots Gap (Northumberland)

A gap in the hills near Morpeth frequently used in Scottish raids on southern Northumberland.

Seaham (County Durham)

An Anglo-Saxon name meaning Homestead by the sea

Seaton Carew (Teesside)

Seaton means the farm or settlement by the sea. The land was once owned by the Carou family.

Seaton Delaval (Northumberland)

Seaton means settlement by the sea. For many centuries the Norman Delaval family owned land in the area. Nearby Seaton Delaval Hall was their home.

Seaton Sluice (Northumberland)

The sluice gate here was built by a member of the Delaval Family

Sedgefield (County Durham)

This name means the field (or open land) belonging to Cedd.

Shadforth (County Durham)

The name means shallow ford

Sheraton (County Durham)

From Scurfaton, meaning the flaky skinned person's farm. Perhaps its earliest inhabitant suffered from dandruff.

Sherburn (County Durham)

Sherburn means bright and shiny stream . The local stream from which it takes its name is now called the Old Durham Beck, it was also once known as the River Pitting. See also Sherburn in Elmet.

Sherburn in Elmet (County Durham)

Sherburn means the bright stream and is a place name that occurs in Yorkshire and County Durham. In the south of England the name usually occurs in the form Sherborne or Sherbourne. Sherburn in Elmet and the nearby Barwick in Elmet refer to an ancient district of Welsh origin called Elmet situated between York and Leeds. When the Anglo-Saxons colonised Britain in the sixth century from Germany and Denmark, they defeated the native Britons who they called 'Waelisc' meaning 'foreigner'. This is how we get the name of present day Wales and its Welsh inhabitants. The Angles from Denmark called their newly colonised territory England - the 'Angle land' and divided this land into a number of kingdoms like Northumbria and Mercia, while the German Saxons called their kingdoms Sussex, Essex and Wessex. In the north some Welsh speaking native British kingdoms held out against the Anglo-Saxons into the seventh century. Elmet was one of these kingdoms and was situated between the River Don and River Wharfe. Elmet's neighbour, immediately to the west was another Welsh kingdom called Loidis, from which we get the name of Leeds. Both of these kingdoms, along with a Welsh kingdom called Meicen, situated in the marshy heathfields of Hatfield near Doncaster were all eventually subdued by the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. The survival of their names commemorates their initial strong resistance.

Shildon (County Durham)

This place name may derive from the Anglo-Saxon words Sclyfe Dun - a hill with a peak.

Shincliffe (County Durham)

The name Shincliffe, south of Durham City has been recorded in many forms since the twelfth century, including Sinneclif, Scinneclif, Sineclive, Shynclyff and Shinkley. The name may mean the hill belonging to someone called Scynesworth but it is more usually said to derive from the Anglo-Saxon Scinna Cliffe, meaning the hill of the ghosts, demons or spectres. It is not known how this area came to be associated with demonic appearances or what form they took, but the Anglo-Saxons are known to have been a superstitious race. Shincliffe is an old settlement and once belonged to the Priors of Durham who owned much of the land in the area, but nearby High Shincliffe is of more recent origin. This largely modern estate stands on the site of Bank Top Colliery Village a community of miners which existed here from 1837 until 1874 when the coal seams ran out. All the residents of Bank Top Village moved away to seek employment elsewhere.

Shotley Bridge (County Durham)

See Snods Edge

Shotley Field (Northumberland)

See Snods Edge

Skelton (Teesside)

See Marske by the Sea

Skerne, River (County Durham)

Skerne meaning bright stream has virtually the same meaning as the name of Sherburn near Durham, but Sherburn is an early English form, while the name of Skerne shows Viking influence. See also Marske-by-the-Sea.

Skinningrove (Teesside)

This Viking influenced name is though to mean Skinners grove or pit.

Skirningham (County Durham)

This means the homestead by the Skerne with 'ings' or meadows.

Snod's Edge (Northumberland)

Snods Edge and Shotley Field both lie in southern Northumberland just beyond the County Durham towns of Shotley Bridge and Consett. Shotley Field was originally like Shotley Bridge called Scotley and is thought to mean the ley or clearing of a Scotsman. If this is the case then there would seem to have been a number of Celtic settlers in the area, as nearby Wallish Walls means Wall of the Welshmen. Snods Edge may be derived from snawede an Anglo-Saxon word for snow, and snods was once a common dialect word in Northumberland. The name of this place would seem to mean the snows edge or snowy place. Staying on the theme of snow, Snows Green near Shotley Bridge refers to Cuthbert Snawe, a man of the cloth who lived in the area in the eighteenth century. His house is said to have had a large garden or green. Fortunately there is no evidence of green snow ever falling in the area.

Snow's Green (County Durham)

See Snods Edge

Snowhope (County Durham)

A valley or hope, where snow is frequently found.

Sockburn on Tees (County Durham)

From Soccabryg - the burgh or stronghold belonging to Socca. Or perhaps the land at the soke or limit of the Bishop of Durham's territory. Enclosed by a loop of the River Tees it formed the southern most portion of the Prince Bishop of Durham's territory. In Anglo-Saxon times Bishops were consecrated here and in Viking times it was an important centre of sculpture. It is said to have been inhabited by a dragon called the Sockburn Worm, which may have inspired Lewis Carroll to write Jabberwocky.

South Bank (Teesside)

Situated on the south bank of the River Tees. It came into existence about 1855.

South Shields (Tyneside)

North and South Shields take their name form the word 'schele', meaning a temporary hut or shed. Shiels or shielings are usually found in the uplands where they were occupied by shepherds who could shield themselves from the wild weather. It is likely that the North and South 'Scheles' were similar buildings occupied by fishermen near the mouth of the River Tyne. North Shields was developed as a port with wharfs and quays by Prior Germanus of Tynemouth in 1225, South Shields was first developed as a port by the Romans. South Shields was known to the Romans as Arbeia and was the main supply port for Hadrian's Wall. Arbeia was built around AD 128 and may have actively traded with the Continent and the Roman port of Londinium, which we know today as London. Roman occupants of South Shields included a small unit of bargemen from the Tigris river valley, which is now in modern day Iraq. These bargemen are thought to have ferried stores up and down the River Tyne to the Roman forts at Wallsend and Newcastle upon Tyne. The remains of the Roman fort of Arbeia at South Shields can still be seen today, situated close to the high ground called the Lawe. Arbeia is one of the best preserved and most extensively excavated Roman forts in Britain and includes one of the biggest reconstructions of a Roman building, a replica of a Roman gateway.

South Stockton (Teesside)

See Thornaby on Tees

South Tyne, River (Northumberland)

See Tyne

Spennymoor (County Durham)

The place name Spennymoor, along with High Spen in North West Durham and Spennithorne in North Yorkshire, are all thought to contain an Anglo-Saxon word 'Spen', but its exact meaning is not certain. An early reference to a fox jumping twice over 'a spenne' has led to the suggestion that a spen was a hedge or something similar. Attempts to relate the word to the Anglo-Saxon 'Spannan' meaning to clasp or fasten or the Old High German Spanan meaning to entice, simply add to the mystery. Early records of Spennymoor's name include Spendingmor in 1381 and Spennyngmore in 1446, but the only certainty is that 'mor' or 'more' referred to the open moorland of the area that existed before enclosure. The form Spendingmor contains the element 'ing' which often signifies a family or kinship group, making it possible that Spen was someone's name. Spennithorne near Leyburn in Wensleydale is likely to have a similar meaning to Spennymoor. This place was recorded in the Yorkshire section of the Domesday Book as Speningetorp in 1086 and as Spenithorn in 1150. Later variations included Spennigthorn in 1289 and Spenythorne in 1285. The thorne in Spennithorne, is likely to be a thorn tree found in the area although the early spelling 'torp' could be 'thorpe' the Danish word for a small farm. High Spen in Durham and the Spen valley in western Yorkshire seem to be the only other places in the country to contain the mysterious word or name spen.

St Helen Auckland (County Durham)

Named from St Helen's Church. See Bishop Auckland

Staindrop (County Durham)

From Steinthorpe, meaning the settlement belonging to a Viking called Steinn or perhaps the stony settlement..

Stainsby (Teesside)

This was the village or 'by' belonging to a Viking called Stein.

Staithes (Teesside)

Situated in a deep coastal creek formed by the Roxby Beck, Staithes has a Viking name meaning landing place. This may be one of the places on the eastern coast where Vikings landed at the beginning of their conquest of Northern England. Not all Norsemen landed on the eastern coast however, as some like the Vikings Croc and Toc sailed into the Mersey estuary where their staithes are remembered in the place names Croxteth and Toxteth. In the North Eastern coalfield the word staithes was later used to describe wooden piers from which ships were loaded with coal on the Rivers Tyne, Wear and Tees.

Stanghow (Teesside)

Thought to derive from the Viking Stong-how meaning pole hill.

Stanhope (County Durham)

Stony valley

Stanley (County Durham)

Stanley is a fairly common place name found throughout the country. Stanleys can be found in Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Scotland and many other places throughout the north but the biggest and best know is Stanley in north west Durham. The name means 'stony clearing' and consists of the two Anglo-Saxon or 'Old English' words - 'Stan' meaning stone and 'leah' meaning a clearing in a wood. Stanleys are probably so named because of the stony soil found in the original clearings. In south west Durham there is a Stanley Crook near Crook, so named to distinguish it from Durham's other Stanley. Stanley Crook means the stony clearing near a bend in a river, stream or a crooked shaped field. Many place names contain the element 'Stan' and include Stanhope, the stony 'hope' or valley in Weardale. In Essex Stanford le Hope - 'the stony ford in the valley' has a similar meaning but often places called Stanford have had their names corrupted to Stamford as at Stamford Bridge near York. In some areas Stan can also be spelt Stain which is why we have numerous places called Stainton or Stanton, both of which mean 'stony farm'. Occasionally and especially in Viking settled areas Stain may refer to a person called Steinn, as is the case of Stainsby near Middlesbrough which was the village or farm belonging to someone called Steinn.

Startforth (County Durham)

Startforth was in Yorkshire on the south side of the River Tees opposite Barnard Castle in County Durham. In 1974 this changed and the south side of the Tees hereabouts including Startforth was moved into Durham. Barnard Castle is a place name of Norman origin and is not as old as Startforth, which has an Anglo-Saxon name. Originally Startforth was called Stradford or Stratford but in the sixteenth century the name changed to Starforde and later Startforth. Like many places throughout the country called Stratford, Stradford or Stretford, Startforth means Street - Ford and all refer to places where Roman roads crossed rivers or streams by means of a ford. The Roman Road that crossed the Tees at Starftforth followed the course of the street called Galgate in Barnard Castle . The Anglo-Saxons named Roman Roads Streets so place names containing the element Street like Chester-le-Street, although of Roman origin do not actually have Roman names. Vikings were also associated with the Startforth area and according to Sir Walter Scott (in Rokeby), near Startforth high they paid their vows and remembered Thor's victorious name - a reference to the Thorsgill Beck a mile downstream. It is not likely that the Vikings named Startforth because the Vikings called fords waths. Ten miles east of Starforth at Gainford a wath linked the settlements of Gainford and Barforth on either side of the River Tees. See Gainford.

Stella (Tyneside)

The place Stella which you mentioned 'was near Blaydon' is still near Blaydon and its name derives from 'stelling' meaning a cattle fold. Stella had a colliery as early as the sixteenth century and was one of the main collieries to supply coal to Elizabethan London. It was the site of the Jacobean Stella Hall which was once the home of the Tempest and Towneley families. In Victorian times it was the home of the radical politician Joseph Cowen who once entertained Garibaldi at the hall. The hall was demolished in 1953 to make way for a housing estate.

Stockton-on-Tees (Teesside)

Stockton, Billingham and Norton all have Anglo-Saxon names with the typical Anglo-Saxon place name endings 'ton' and 'ham' meaning farm, or homestead. The three places along with Thornaby on the opposite side of the Tees are all part of the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees. Thornaby's name ending in 'by' indicates a Viking settlement and is one of a number of 'by' names on the south side of the river, which are virtually absent from the north bank. Of the three Anglo-Saxon settlements on the north side, Stockton is the most important, but in early times Billingham and Norton were the main centres and were especially important in Saxon times. Stockton's name is thought by some to derive from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Stocc' meaning log, tree trunk or wooden post. Stockton's name could therefore mean a farm built of logs. This is disputed because when the word Stocc forms the first part of a place name it usually indicates a derivation from the similar word 'Stoc', meaning cell, monastery or quite simply place. 'Stoc' names along with places called Stoke or Stow, usually indicate farms which belonged to a manor or religous house. It is thought that Stockton fell into this category and perhaps the name is an indication that Stockton was an outpost of Durham or Norton which were both important Anglo-Saxon centres. This is a matter of dispute but Stockton was only a part of Norton until the eighteenth century when it became an independent parish in its own right. Today roles have been reversed and Norton has been demoted to a part of Stockton.

Stranton (Teesside)

Near Hartlepool strand farm, see also Foggy Furze.

Sunderland (Wearside)

The name derives from Sundered Land, land set asside for a special purpose. It is thought Sunderland was land sundered from a monastery in Saxon times. Bede, (673-735 AD), the Anglo-Saxon scribe, described Sunderland as the place of his birth, and wrote; accended on sundorlonde pas yclan mynstres. His description suggests that Sunderland was land separated from the monastery of Monkwearmouth, on the north bank of the Wear. Monkwearmouth and nearby Bishopwearmouth, which belonged to the Bishop of Durham, were historically more important sites than Sunderland itself and for centuries the whole Sunderland area was better known as Wearmouth. By the seventeenth century the names Sunderland and Wearmouth were used interchangeably and this was the case during the Civil War when Sunderland supported Cromwell and the Scottish blue caps who invaded the north of England in support of the Parliamentarian cause. Sunderland's stance incensed the inhabitants of Royalist Newcastle who chanted "Ride through Sandgate up and down, there youll see the gallants fighting for the crown, and all the cull cuckolds in Sunderland town with all the bonny blue caps, cannot pull them down". Sunderland's support for Cromwell earned the Wearsiders a right to ship coal to London and helped to destroy Newcastle's powerful monopoly. This spurred on the growth of Sunderland. Monkwearmouth and Bishopwearmouth were relegated to mere subburbs of the busy and expanding port.

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