Category Archives: Newcastle upon Tyne

Geordie Fraser’s Geordie Phrases

‘Geordie Fraser’s Geordie Phrases’ is a series of YouTube videos in which David Simpson takes a light-hearted look at the origins of the region’s Geordie dialect.

There are many influences upon the Geordie and Northumbrian dialect. In this series ‘Geordie Fraser’ explores some of the region’s well-known words and phrases and examines some of their possible origins.

In the first of the videos we see how the region once spoke a form of Welsh but this has left very little influence upon the dialect and place-names save for a prominent Pennine hill in Yorkshire and a peculiar means of counting sheep that survived across the uplands of the North and North East.

The Angle ‘angle’ of North East dialect origins is explored in the first video looking at the origin of the Angles who gave England its name – ‘the Angle Land’. These were a people who also established the Kingdom of Northumbria. In addition, this first video explores the speech of the closely associated Frisians, whose surviving language is still the closest relative of English with words and pronunciations having a marked similarity to Geordie and Scots.

It’s been argued that Geordie (and Northumbrian) words are about 80 per cent Anglo-Saxon origin with the Angle influence being particularly prominent. This may be stretching the truth a little but certainly words and phrases like ‘gan’, ‘hoppings’ or ‘toon’ for town have striking similarities to Anglo-Saxon words even though the Old English language of the Anglo-Saxons would be largely incomprehensible to most English speakers today. Then again, the same is sometimes said for Geordie.

In the second video ‘Fraser’ asks: was there any Viking and Norman influence on Geordie dialect and place-names? The third video explores the Geordie dialect’s relationship to local place-names, asking the question: Is the Red Yuff really a ‘yuff’? Fraser also recalls a humorous encounter with a Border Reiver in Redesdale, during a search for “a very long place-name, that begins with ‘B’

Video four explores the words ‘canny’ and ‘wor’ and investigates the origin of the Northumbrian ‘burr’ and its possible influence upon Geordie speech.

The fifth video in Geordie Fraser’s YouTube series examines some common Geordie words and phrases, with a little touch of humour. Other videos exploring North East dialect will follow.

You might also like to visit our Geordie dictionary.

North East England Quiz Number 10

Test your knowledge of North East England with quiz number 10.

Sage Gateshead
Question 1 photo © David Simpson

1. What is the name of the beautiful building pictured above?

2. Which famous poet was married at Seaham?

3. What is the name of the legend involving a hapless knight, a secret cavern, a beautiful maiden, a wicked wizard, a sword and a couple of skeletons that is associated with Northumberland’s Dunstanburgh Castle?

Dunstanburgh Castle
Dunstanburgh Castle © David Simpson

4. Which two North East rivers merge at Warden rocks and what do they become?

5. Friars Goose near Gateshead takes its name from what?

6. Underhill, once a private house and now a Gateshead care home in Low Fell was famous for which world first?

7. On whose body did sculptor Antony Gormley model the Angel of the North?

Angel of the North
Angel of the North © David Simpson

8. On which plain would you find the ancient site of Maelmin, a Royal centre for kings of Northumbria?

Milfield Plain, site of Maelmin
The site of Maelmin © David Simpson

9. Where would you find Benebal Crag and King Edward’s Bay?

10. For what purpose was this eighteenth century building (below) at Westerton near Spennymoor built and who built it?

Observatory at Westerton
Westerton © David Simpson

11. What was the name of the fenced-off Belgian village occupied by 6,000 French and Flemish speaking Belgian nationals during World War One and where in the North East was it located?

12. The mound of this Norman castle (below) can be found on the outskirts of which North East village?

Earthworks of motte and bailey castle at Bishopton
Earthworks of motte and bailey castle see question 12 © David Simpson

13. Who was the leader of the seventeenth century Levellers political movement who hailed from the North East?

14. Where will you find the memorial to the Felling Colliery disaster and the grave of the miners’ union leader, Thomas Hepburn?

15. Where in the region would you find the ballroom from the Olympic, the sister ship of the Titanic?

16. For what purpose was the building that now forms the famed art gallery BALTIC at Gateshead originally built and on what notable industrial site does it stand?

BALTIC Gateshead
BALTIC viewed from the Gateshead Millennium Bridge © David Simpson

17. What is the name of this eerie structure pictured below?

Winter's Gibbet, near Elsdon
Fancy a game of hangman? © David Simpson

18. Where would you find the Kilted Magi and what are they?

19. What family name links the village of Longnewton near Stockton, Wynyard Hall, Seaham Harbour and Old Durham near Durham City?

20. What was the name of the son of William the Conqueror who built a castle of earth and wood at Newcastle in 1080?

21, What was unusual about William Cumin, Bishop of Durham who seized and fortified the hill top church of Kirk Merrington in County Durham during a siege in 1143?

Kirk Merrington church
Kirk Merrington church. See question 21 © David Simpson

22. What was the occupation of Clavering commemorated by Clavering’s Cross in the moors near Longhorsley, Northumberland and what happened to him?

23. What separates the Blackgate of Newcastle castle from the castle keep?

24. What was the name of the former border stronghold of the Prince Bishops of Durham on the banks of the Tweed in north Northumberland?

Norham Castle
Bishop’s border stronghold. See question 24.  © David Simpson

25. Born at Morpeth in 1508, who was known as ‘The Father of English Botany’?

26. Plummer Tower, Wall Knoll, Durham Tower and Morden Tower are all part of what extensive medieval structure?

27. What devastating Tyneside event took place on October 6, 1854?

28. What was the former name of the village centred on what is now Gosforth High Street?

29. With which North East town would you associate the legend of the Pollard Brawn?

Cleadon Windmill and Water Tower
Windmill and Water Tower © David Simpson

30. Where would you find the two towers pictured above?

31. Which County Durham church has an interior with a remarkable similarity to the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral and is thought to have been built by the same architect?

32. Where is the modern town centre area (below) called Trinity Square?

Trinity Square, Gateshead
Trinity Square © David Simpson

33. What is the name of the hill near Sunderland where the carriers of St Cuthbert’s coffin are said to have mysteriously ground to a halt, as the monks sought guidance in finding his final resting place?

34. Who gave Jesmond Dene as a gift to the people of Newcastle?

35. What was first performed on June 5th 1862?

36. To which saint is Newcastle cathedral dedicated?

St Nicholas Cathedral Newcastle
Cathedral, Newcastle © David Simpson

37. A circle of heads of which creature can be seen peering over the lantern tower of Newcastle Civic Centre?

38. What often riotous event last took place on September 28, 1916?

39. Who was Dickie of Kingswood?

40. Why is Newcastle’s Dean Street so named?

Answers below




  1. Sage, Gateshead.
  2. Lord Byron.
  3. Sir Guy the Seeker.
  4. The North Tyne and South Tyne merge to become the Tyne.
  5. Friar’s Goose is another name for gorse (or broom).
  6. It was Joseph Swan’s house, the first private house in the world to be lit by electricity.
  7. Antony Gomley modelled the Angel on his own body.
  8. Milfield Plain near Wooler.
  9. Tynemouth.
  10. It’s an observatory built by astronomer Thomas Wright.
  11. Elisabethville at Birtley.
  12. Bishopton, near Stockton-on-Tees.
  13. John Lilburne.
  14. Heworth churchyard.
  15. The White Swan Inn, Alnwick.
  16. It was originally a Joseph Rank Flour Mill. In earlier times this spot was the site of Hawk’s (Haaks) Gateshead iron works (1858-1890).
  17. Winter’s Gibbet, near Elsdon, Northumberland. The body of a local murderer called William Winter was hung here after he was executed at Newcastle in 1791.
  18. Medieval stone carvings of three wise men wearing kilts at Kirknewton church near Wooler.
  19. Vane Tempest (Marquess of Londonderry’s family name).
  20. Robert Curthose.
  21. He was a usurper bishop who had seized the County Palatine of Durham under the direction of King David of Scotland. He was not the rightful bishop.
  22. Robert Clavering, a High Sheriff of Northumberland who was shot dead at this spot in November 1586.
  23. A railway line.
  24. Norham Castle.
  25. William Turner.
  26. Remnants of Newcastle’s medieval town walls.
  27.  The great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead.
  28. Bulman Village.
  29. Bishop Auckland.
  30. Cleadon, South Tyneside.
  31. St Lawrence church, at Hallgarth, Pittington.
  32. Gateshead.
  33. Warden Law
  34.  William, Lord Armstrong.
  35. Geordie Ridley’s song ‘The Blaydon Races’, the song itself mentions the actual races which took place on June 9th a few days later.
  36.  St Nicholas.
  37. Seahorses.
  38.  The Blaydon Races – horse racing event was always a rather riotous occasion.
  39. A notorious mosstrooper, horse and cattle thief from Allendale.
  40. Because it follows the course of the dene or valley of a stream called the Lort Burn. The spelling should perhaps be ‘dene’ rather than ‘dean’.

North East Quiz 9

Test your knowledge of North East England with our ninth North East England history quiz.

Duddo stone circle.
Duddo, Northumberland. See question 26 © David Simpson

1. What is the name of the North East street pictured below?

Sandhill Newcastle
Street scene. See Question 1 : Photo © David Simpson 2015

2. What was the nationality and name of the sailor and privateer who bombed the Northumbrian village of Alnmouth with a cannon ball from his passing ship on September 23, 1779?

Alnmouth © David Simpson

3. Where would you find a sculpture of a male and female called ‘The Couple’ standing on a platform out in the middle of the sea watched over by a much smaller but otherwise identical couple on the shore?

'The Couple', Newbiggin
‘The Couple’, © David Simpson

4. Where might you find the ghost of Archie Armstrong?

5. What was the name of the ship that struck one of the Farne Islands on the morning of 7th September 1838 and resulted in the famous rescue involving the heroic lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Grace Darling?

6. Broad and Trinity in Newcastle; Church, Low and Middle in Chester-le-Street; Castle and Wear in Bishop Auckland; Castle in Durham and Church in Whickham are all examples of what?

7. Originally from County Durham but principally associated with North Northumberland, what were the Culley Brothers, Matthew and George (born 1730 and 1734) noted for?

8. Name the famous furniture designer born at Stockton-on-Tees in 1751 who shares a family name with a North East village near the A19?

9. By what name is the Battle of Branxton (1513) better known?

10. Which picturesque North East village was laid out by Louisa, the Marchioness of Waterford?

Ford village main street
Pretty village main street, Northumberland. Question 10 © David Simpson

11. In the courtyard of which Newcastle quayside institution will you find a former almshouse of 1787 and an anchor from the Spanish Armada of 1588?

12. Which North East town was the birthplace of Frank Williams of Formula One racing fame?

13. Which famous North East battle took place in Redesdale, Northumberland in 1388 and involved the Northumberland Percys and the Douglas family of Scotland?

14. Who composed the North East song Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinny?

15. What was the name and occupation of the Akenside from whom Newcastle’s Akenside Hill takes its name?

16. Where in the North East would you find the picturesque Trafalgar Square situated around a green with a plaque commemorating 76 local sailors who served at the Battle of Trafalgar?

Trafalgar Square, Sunderland
Trafalgar Square © David Simpson

17. Which battle fought near the Roman Wall a few miles north of Hexham persuaded the victorious Northumbrian king, Oswald to convert to Christianity and who were the opponents in the battle?

18. Name the Swalwell-born composer who reputedly wrote the tune to Auld Lang Syne?

19. Where might you have once found an eighteenth century military defensive instalment called the Black Cat battery?

20. What is significant about Ellington in terms of North East coal mining and what was the nickname with which the mine was associated?

Ellington village, Northumberland © David Simpson

21. Which two North East rivers are separated by the sandy Cambois beach?

Cambois beach looking south towards Blyth
Cambois beach looking south © David Simpson

22. With which North East colliery village would you have associated Richard Haswell’s fictional character ‘Geordie Broon?

23. Where would you find Javel Groupe?

24. Who was the renowned journalist born at Embleton in North Northumberland and what was his eventual fate?

25. Which American comedian indirectly takes his name from a Northumbrian ballad that commemorates a Cheviot hunt and the Battle of Otterburn?

View of the Cheviots from the Duddo stones.
View of the Cheviots near Duddo © David Simpson

26. What ancient site can you find in the middle of a field with great surrounding views near the village of Duddo in north Northumberland?

Teesdale © David Simpson

27. White-washed farm-houses in Teesdale usually signify that they are part of which landed estate?

28. Which Newcastle street was historically associated with the distinctive keelmen fraternity who transported coal to ships on the Tyne using their boats called keels?

29. What is Sting’s real name?

30. Name the five rivers found in Tyne and Wear?

Two rivers at Jarrow. Photo: David Simpson

31. Name the ten rivers found in the historic county of Durham and the three rivers that it acquired  from the North Riding of Yorkshire in the 1970s following boundary changes?

32. What is the name of the famous character created by the Hartlepool cartoonist Reg Smythe (1917-1998)?

33. Until 1836 what was unusual about the districts of Bedlingtonshire, Norhamshire and Islandshire in Northumberland?

34. Born and brought up in Teesdale near Barnard Castle, name the explorer and renewable energy champion who was the first man to walk to both poles?

35. Which prominent North East family were closely associated with Streatlam near Barnard Castle and Gibside near Gateshead?

36. Which North East village was known as ‘Little Moscow‘ from its communist sympathies and a street called Marx and Lenin Terrace?

37. Shiremoor in North Tyneside was named from which historic North East district or ‘shire’?

38. What was the name of the German industrialist who was the first mayor and first MP for Middlesbrough?

39. What famous Roman fort is located at Chesterholm in Northumberland?

40. Where would you find Killingworth Billy and what is it?

Answers below



  1. Sandhill, a quayside street, Newcastle upon Tyne
  2. John Paul Jones. He was American.
  3. Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
  4. Haughton Castle, Northumberland.
  5. The Forfarshire.
  6. They are all ‘Chares’.
  7. Farmers who bred the Border Leicester sheep.
  8. Thomas Sheraton.
  9. Flodden Field.
  10. Ford village, Northumberland.
  11. Trinity House.
  12. South Shields.
  13. Otterburn.
  14. Joe Wilson.
  15. Mark Akenside. He was a poet.
  16. Sunderland.
  17. Heavenfield. King Oswald fought against the Welsh.
  18. William Shield.
  19. Sunderland.
  20. Ellington was the region’s last colliery. The mine was known as ‘The Big E’.
  21. The River Wansbeck and River Blyth.
  22. Backworth.
  23. Newcastle quayside.
  24. W.T. Stead. He died on board the Titanic.
  25. Chevy Chase.
  26. Duddo standing stones, a small stone circle.
  27. Raby.
  28. Sandgate.
  29. Gordon Sumner.
  30. Rivers Tyne, Derwent, Team, Don and Wear.
  31. Rivers Tyne, Derwent, Team, Don, Wear, Tees, Browney, Deerness, Gaunless and Skerne. The River Balder, River Lune and River Greta were moved into Durham from Yorkshire.
  32. Andy Capp.
  33. They were part of County Durham (The County Palatine of Durham).
  34. Robert Swan.
  35. The Bowes family.
  36. Chopwell.
  37. Tynemouthshire.
  38. Henry Bolckow.
  39. Vindolanda.
  40. It’s a locomotive found at the Stephenson Railway Museum, North Shields.