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 T to Y


T Tanfield to Tyne River

Tanfield (County Durham)

The name is a corruption of Team field as local streams feed the River Team.

Tantobie (County Durham)

Its name may derive from an association with nearby Tanfield.

Team, River (Tyneside)

Team is another ancient Celtic river name. The name is closely related to river names like the Tame and of course London's Thames.

Tees, River (County Durham)

are generally much older than place names and are often the most ancient and most myseterious names in the landscape. British place names and river names have their origins in six major language types. These languages starting with the most recent and working back are Norman-French, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Roman, Celtic and Pre-Celtic. River names are usually Celtic or pre-Celtic. The ancient Celtic name Wear, for example may mean 'Water' or 'River that flows like blood', while Tyne, along with Team, Tame, Thames and Avon are thought to simply mean 'River. These river names occur in many different forms throughout the country and Avon is still used in Wales as a word for river in the form 'Afon', where for example Afon Gwy means River Wye. The name of the River Tees is thought to originate from the time of the Celtic speaking Ancient Britons whose language was similar to present day Welsh. Its name is thought to be related to the ancient Welsh 'Tes' meaning 'sunshine and heat' and is likely to mean 'the boiling, surging water'. 'Boiling' is perhaps a description of the many waterfalls and rapids found in the upper part of Teesdale. A separate theory claims that Tees is a name of pre-Celtic origin, but the pre-Celtic languages of Britain are highly mysterious and often quite unrelated to any modern day tongue.

Teesdale (County Durham)

The dale or valley of the River Tees. This is also the name of an area to the north of Thornaby, Teesside which became the site of the Teesdale ironworks in Victorian times.

Thirlwall (Northumberland)

Thirlwall is a weak point on Hadrian's Wall where native tribes are said to have thirled or broken through the Roman defences

Thornaby on Tees (Teesside)

Thornaby was the village settled by a Viking called Thormad or Thormoth. The letters 'by' at the end of the name signify a Viking settlement, most probably of Danish origin. Over the centuries there have been a number of different spellings of the name Thornaby including Turmozbi, Thormozbi and Tormozbia in the eleventh century. Later spellings included Thormodby, Thormodebi, Thormotebi, Thormotheby and Thormotby. The form Thornaby first appears in 1665 and refers to old Thornaby village near the River Tees. In the nineteenth century old Thornaby, centred on St Peters Church and the old village green was gradually overshadowed by the burgeoning town of South Stockton. South Stockton was on the Yorkshire side of the Tees opposite Stockton on Tees. South Stockton, became the site of a pottery in 1825 and quickly grew with the establishment of shipbuilding and engineering in the area. Gradually South Stockton grew so big that it swallowed up the little village of Thornaby. On the sixth October 1892 South Stockton and Old Thornaby merged into one to form the municipal borough of Thornaby on Tees.

Thornley (County Durham)

This means a thorny clearing.

Thorpe Larches (Teesside)

Where larch trees grew. See Thorpe Thewles

Thorpe Thewles (Teesside)

The element Thorpe in English place names is of Danish origin and means farm. Thorpes were of secondary importance to place names ending in by which were Danish villages to which thorpes often belonged. In the Teesside area there are a number of by names south of the Tees, like Thornaby but there are few on the north side of the river, which lay outside the old Viking kingdom of York. Thorpes can be found in what used to be the northern part of Cleveland county however and include Middlethorpe, Thorpe Larches and Thorpe Thewles. Thewles is an old word of medieval origin meaning immoral, thus Thorpe Thewles was an immoral farm, but what kind of immoral activity took place here we do not know. See also Graythorp.

Thorsgill Beck (County Durham)

See Startforth

Till, River (Northumberland)

Thought to be a Celtic River name meaning to dissolve. The river is called the Breamish in its upper stretches. The change takes place at Bewick Mill - 'Foot of Breamish and Head of Till, meet together at Bewick Mill.' See Breamish.

Toronto (Teesside)

See Quebec

Tow Law (County Durham)

The word law in local place names derives from the Anglo-Saxon Hlaw which means rounded hill and was often applied to a hill with an ancient barrow or tumulus on its summit. In the midlands and further south the word low is often used in the same way and is especially common among the rounded hills of Derbyshire. Law is commonest in Northumberland and Durham but rare in Yorkshire, where the Viking word Howe predominates in place names like Ainderby Quernhow and Carlin Howe. North East Laws include Charlaw hill near Sacriston in County Durham, where there is a good view of the Cleveland Hills, the Cheviots, Newcastle City centre and Durham Cathedral. Another hill with a good viewpoint is Warden Law near Houghton le Spring. This name means Watch-Hill and is said to be the place where the carriers of St Cuthbert's coffin were guided to Durham after the saint appeared to them in a vision in the Year 995

Trimdon (County Durham)

According to legend Trimdon, near the source of the River Skerne was the place where King Canute shaved his head and trimmed his beard before donning a cloak at the beginning of his bare foot pilgrimage from nearby Garmondsway to St Cuthbert'shrine at Durham. Sadly there is no evidence to support the claim that Trimdon means 'trimming and donning' as early forms of the name are quite different. Historic forms of the name include Tremeldona in 1196 and Trembledon in 1339 and the present form Trimdon did not come into use until 1539. The don in Trimdon is almost certainly an Anglo-Saxon word for a hill and is perhaps a reference to the nearby ridge which stretches west to Cornforth.Tremel the first part of the early name Tremeldon is thought to mean a wooden cross or sign. It has been argued that the name referred to a wooden post erected by pagan Anglo-Saxons and that a Christian church was later established on the site. The idea that the don referred to a mound formed by a pagan burial is now thought unlikely. Today the original Trimdon is the site of a medieval church but is now accompanied by the nearby villages of Trimdon Grange and Trimdon Colliery, both more recent settlements with coal mining origins. The names of these places were given to associate them with and at the same time distinguish them from the original settlement of Trimdon.

Trimdon Colliery (County Durham)

See Trimdon

Trimdon Grange (County Durham)

See Trimdon

Tudhoe (County Durham)

Tuda's hoh - a hill or piece of land belonging to someone called Tudda

Tweedmouth (Northumberland)

At the mouth of the River Tweed, on the south bank of the river opposite Berwick.

Twice Brewed (Northumberland)

See Once Brewed

Twizell (County Durham)

See Haltwhistle

Tyne, River (Tyneside)

Tyne is an ancient Celtic river name which occurs more than once throughout the British Isles. It may simply mean river.

U Ulgham to Ushaw Moor

Ulgham (Northumberland)

See Wham

Unthank (County Durham)

There are a number of Unthanks throughout the north, the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon Unthances, and refers to a farm once occupation by squatters.

Upleatham (Teesside)

This name means the upper slopes. Upleatham is most famous for the tiny twelfth century church of St Andrew which is reputedly the smallest church in England. See Kirkleatham.

Ushaw Moor (County Durham)

From Ulf Shaw meaning wolf wood plus the word moor.

V Vinovia

Vinovia (County Durham)

See Binchester

W Wackerfield to Wynyard

Wackerfield (County Durham)

Thought to be a Viking name Vakrfeld meaning the watching or wakeful field.

Walbottle (Tyneside)

In place names a 'Bottle' or dwelling, this 'bottle' being on the Roman Wall.

Waldridge near Chester-le-Street (County Durham)

Thought to mean Wealahs' ridge the ridge of the Welsh or foreigners. signifying an area where Ancient British Welsh speakers lived in Anglo-Saxon times. Waldridge Fell is an upland heath area which may have formed the territory of the native Welsh in ancient times. See also Walworth.

Walker (Tyneside)

A rare Viking name on Tyneside, the second element is the Old Norse Ker meaning marsh. The name means marsh near the wall - namely the Roman wall.

Wall (Northumberland)

A village near Hadrians Wall

Wallish Walls (Northumberland)

At one time the north of England was inhabited by ancient Britons whose language closely resembled modern day Welsh. Later the north was invaded by Germanic speaking Anglo-Saxons who referred to the native Britons as Welsh, meaning foreigner. Many ancient Britons fled west to escape the Anglo-Saxons and their place of refuge became the country we know today as Wales. Some Welsh were brave enough to stay behind and their presence is remembered in place names containing the elements Wel or Wal. This has led to the theory that Wallish Walls near Consett could mean the Welshmans Walls or Welsh-Welsh but in the seventeenth century it was called Twoe Walliges which means of the Welshman. Nearby Durham Field like Wallish Walls is just outside the County Durham boundary in Northumberland but the land here may once have belonged to the monastery of Durham Cathedral. Crooked Oak refers to an oak that stood in a crook or bend of the River Derwent, a house nearby is said to have been inhabited by a witch.

Wallsend (Tyneside)

Wallsend was of course situated at the eastern terminus of Hadrian's Wall and was one of five Roman forts situated in the area now known as Tyneside. Originally the Roman fort and bridge of Pons Aelius at Newcastle upon Tyne was the eastern terminus of the wall situated at the most easterly bridging point on the Tyne. Later the wall was extended three miles east to Wallsend. At Wallsend, the Tyne makes a ninety degree bend, where after flowing north for a mile it turns east towards the sea. This made an ideal terminus for the wall, where the wide River Tyne provided a natural continuation of the Roman defences to the east. The Roman fort of Segedunum was built at Wallsend and was garrisoned by 500 men but also had a civillian settlement just outside its walls. From the eastern angle of the fort, Hadrian's Wall continued into the low water level of the River Tyne itself, ensuring that every last inch of Roman territory was defended. A further defence may have been provided by natural marshy land that once existed behind this part of the Roman wall. The marshland was known as Ker or Carr and is indicated by the settlements of Walker and Byker, the first meaning the marshland by the wall, the second an isolated Viking settlement.

Walworth (County Durham)

Place names containing the Anglo-Saxon element 'worth' refer to settlements which were enclosed. Walworth, three miles north west of Darlington, means the enclosed settlement of the Wealas or Britons, an Anglo-Saxon reference to a survival of Welsh speaking ancient Britons here. The place name has a similar meaning to the numerous places called Walton found throughout the country. Waldridge, near Chester le-Street, also has a similar meaning and was the ridge of the Britons, who presumably lived on Waldridge Fell. Walworth's name is interesting because it is located half way between the Iron Age fortifications at Stanwick in North Yorkshire and at Shackleton Hill near Heighington. Both of these fortifications were at one time inhabited by the Welsh speaking Britons. Today Walworth is best known as the site of Walworth Castle, now a hotel, but it was originally a mansion built by Thomas Jennison, the Auditor of Ireland in the late sixteenth century. Just to the north of Walworth at North Farm is the site of the deserted medieval village of Walworth. This may have been located on the site of the enclosure that once belonged to the ancient Britons. This site, on private land, is described as having an unusual form with a street layout similar to the Bondgate areas of Darlington and Bishop Auckland. It is thought that Walworth may be a failed medieval borough.

Wansbeck, River (Northumberland)

This is an Anglo-Saxon river name and derives from Wagens Pic. A pic was a bridge built from logs, seemingly used by wagons. The Wansbeck is not therefore a true beck.

Wark (Northumberland)

a Wark is an earthwork or fortification.

Warkworth (Northumberland)

Earthwork settlement. Wark still means work in local dialect



Washington, in the District of Sunderland Tyne and Wear was originally in County Durham and was thus Washington C.D as opposed to its American counterpart Washington D.C. The change of county is a pity, as our Washington is the original and in a roundabout way gave its name to the American capital. Washington County Durham was originally called Wessington and has an Anglo-Saxon name meaning Wessas peoples place. In Norman times the manor house at Washington belonged to the Prince Bishop of Durham who sold it in the year 1180 to William De Hartburn of Hartburn near Stockton on Tees. Wiliam changed his name to De Wessington when he acquired the new property but in later years his surname was shortened to Washington. Williams descendants included George Washington, the first president of the United States who subsequently gave his name to the American capital. It is amusing to speculate that if history had taken a different course the White House might have been built in a place called Hartburn.

Wear, River (County Durham)

An ancient Celtic river name which may mean water or 'river of blood'

West Auckland (County Durham)

See Bishop Auckland

Westgate in Weardale (County Durham)

See Eastgate

Wham (County Durham)

This place near Butterknowle in County Durham was recorded in the fourteenth century under the names Quwam and Qwhomm. The name derives from the Old Norse word Hvammr meaning a short valley or depression surrounded by high ground, although the word has also been used to refer to the corner of a house or room. The word Wham occurs in both northern field names and place names. A usual feature of a wham is that there is an opening on one side of the steep hollow, which provides access for farmers. Wham is still used as a dialect word in Northumberland, Cumbria, Scotland and Yorkshire to describe a marshy hollow or a hollow within a hill or a mountain. A number of Whams can be found in Northumberland including Ulwham and Ulgham (originally Ulweham) and Whitwham. The first two both mean the hollow frequented by an ul or an owl, the latter means white hollow and may have the same meaning as Hvitar Hvammar found in Iceland.

Whitburn (Wearside)

Thought to mean Hwita's barn, the barn belonging to Hwita.

Whitley Bay (Tyneside)

Whitley means the white clearing, Whitley Bay due to its coastal location.

Whitwham (Northumberland)

See Wham

Wide Open (Tyneside)

Probably the site of a farm with wide open fields

Willington (County Durham)

Early forms of this name and Willington Quay near Wallsend, suggest that they were farms belonging to a person or persons called Wifel.

Willington Quay (Tyneside)

See Willington

Windmill Hills (Tyneside)

These hills near Gateshead were once covered with numerous windmills.

Winston (County Durham)

From Wineston, the farm belonging to an Anglo-Saxon called Wine.

Witton Gilbert (County Durham)

Witton is a fairly common place name which is why most Wittons are prefixed or suffixed with another name in order to distinguish one Witton from another. Thus we have Witton Gilbert, Witton-le-Wear and Witton Rows in County Durham, East Witton and West Witton in North Yorkshire and Nether Witton in Northumberland. Witton can sometimes mean the 'white farm' but most North country Wittons were farms 'in or near the woodland' and derive from the Anglo-Saxon 'Widu' meaning woodland and 'ton' meaning farm. In later Anglo-Saxon speech Widu became wudu and in Old Norse was pronounced 'With' which occurs in some Yorkshire place names like Birstwith. In 1104 Witton -le-Wear's name was spelt Wudeton but it seems to have changed its name to Wotton in Werdale by 1313. West Witton was called Widtuna in 1166 while nearby East Witton was referred to as Estwitton around the same time. More often than not it was the Norman French aristocracy who felt the need to distinguish similar place names from one or another for the pruposes of taxation and identification. Witton Gilbert's name is pronounced with a soft 'G' because its one time owner was a Norman French aristocrat called Gilbert.

Witton le Wear (County Durham)

This may derive from Widu Tun, the farm near a wood. It is situated near the River Wear. The full name distinguishes it from Witton Gilbert. (See Witton Gilbert)

Wolsingham (County Durham)

This means the homestead of Wulfsige's people.

Wolviston (Teesside)

This means the farm belonging to Wulf.

Wrekenton (Tyneside)

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the then unnamed Wrekenton, south of Gateshead was the site of a small house called Red Robins, a pub called the Seven Stars and a small row of cottages known as St Helena Row. Around 1820 a village was established here by a Mr Warburton, who on the advice of John Hodgson, the famous northern historian, named the village Wrekenton. The name of Wrekenton was chosen because the new village was divided from the neighbouring Eighton Banks by an ancient earthwork and Roman Road called the Wrekendyke or Wrakendike. This historic feature formed the southern boundary of Gateshead Fell parish. Some believe that the Wrekendyke is of Celtic origin, which may be true, but it was certainly used as a Roman Road and ran from its junction with another Roman Road at Wrekenton to the Roman fort at South Shields. It follows the course of the B1288 and A194 'Leam Lane' roads, broken only by an unused stretch near the White Mare Pool roundabout. Wrekenyke means the dyke of the fugitives and may have distant associations with the ancient hill called Wrekin in Shropshire. The origin of the ancient 'wreckers' or fugitives is unknown, but it is interesting to note that Wrekenton was said to be inhabited by Romany gypsies before the Victorian village was built.

Wynyard (Teesside)

The enlosure or yard belonging to Wine.

Y Yarm to Yoden

Yarm (Teesside)

Yarm on the south side of the Tees, was once the most important port on the river. Here industries at one time included ropemaking, brewing, tanning and even shipbuilding. In the seventeenth century Yarms role as a port was superceeded by Stockton and later Middlesbrough. For many centuries Yarm was called Yarum, a name deriving from the Anglo Saxon Gear, pronounced yair, a pool for catching fish. The um on the end of the original name Yarum forms an Anglo-Saxon plural, so Yarm means fish pools. Yarums name, later shortened to Yarm can be compared to that of Kepier near Durham which means the yair where fish were kept. According to a humorous song, the Tees winds around Yarum, to keep out County Darham. The river may have served a defensive purpose in historic times but it has also caused problems, inundating the town on several occasions. Notable floods in Yarm occured in 1753, 1771 and 1783. A marker on Yarm Town Hall shows the seven feet height of the 1771 flood. Ords History of Cleveland (1846) describes Yarms problematic setting - Yonder Fair Yarm, extended in the vale, along the Tees as in a circle lies, ill fated spot, by inundation torn.

Yearby (Teesside)

Derives from the Viking Efri by meaning upper village.

Yeavering Bell (Northumberland)

Once called Ad Gefrin, a name of Celtic origin. The place was the site of a palace of the Northumbrian kings.

Yoden (County Durham)

See Peterlee

Place Names A-D | Place Names E-J | Place Names K-O | Place Names P-S


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