Altogether Archaeology News Archive

Northumberland Name Books website goes live
The Ordnance Survey Name Books for Northumberland (c. 1860) record some fifteen thousand place-names from Abberwick to Youly Sike, with brief descriptions of the places, giving a fascinating overview of the historic county at a time of great change. Images and transcriptions of the documents can now be viewed, browsed and searched at Northumberland Name Books.

Members of Altogether Archaeology (AA) will be familiar with the OS Name Books, since AA generously undertook work on them as one of their projects in 2019 (see the article on this website). Twelve AA members volunteered to transcribe the 471 pages for Allendale in OS 34/331 and 332 in The National Archives, Kew, and Andy Curtis and Rob Pearson gave wonderful support with recruiting, organising, mentoring and checking. Through the transcribers' excellent work they transformed pages like this: Image 1, page 100 of OS 34/331, the first Name Book for Allendale parish], to transcriptions that are displayed on the website like this: Image 2.

This randomly chosen example gives a glimpse of the tantalising questions that just one page can throw up. Surveyor Thomas Grehan's description of Bunkers Hill as an 'ordinary farm house' which 'does not stand on a hill or eminence which might give rise to the name' would encourage the thought that this place-name is not descriptive but commemorative, occasioned by the Battle of Bunker Hill in Massachusetts, fought in 1775 early in the American Revolutionary War. There are many more Bunker/Bunker's Hills in England, and many more commemorations of colonial battles. How we explain Riding Hill on the same page, also not a hill, is not so clear!

The transcriptions are fully browsable and searchable by going via the above link and clicking the Browse tab to the Allendale Indexes where you can see the range of place-names and 'objects' in this huge parish and identify topics or key words such as chapels, cloughs or quarries. Or by Searching and looking at individual pages you can find out, for instance, what the 'eal' in Bridge Eal is, who the Abraham of Abraham's Plain was, or how Ninebanks School was funded. A very useful way into the Allendale Name Books is Andy Curtis's Allendale Parish Interactive Map

Many thanks to the AA team for helping to make this treasure trove accessible to all.

Diana Whaley
Image 1: Page 100 of the original c.1860 Name Books for Northumberland. Image 2. Page 100 as it appears in the database having been transcribed by the volunteers including some AA members.
Click Images to Enlarge
Image 3. Volunteers that took part in digitising the Northumberland Name Books
News Record: 55     Updated: 12-09-2021 14:55:49

  Altogether Archaeology News Archive