What’s in a name?

The ‘Field Names Survey’ project aims to survey all 16 townships along the Tyne to Tees coastline in order to identify potential new archaeological or historical sites or activities of interest to archaeologists and historians.

Using a range of heritage investigation and recording activities that complement documentary and map information, local volunteers have been exploring the origins of former field names to discover how use of the coastline has changed over the centuries. 

The team have made some wonderful discoveries about coastal communities. Our favourites include the story behind Cold Heseldene, originally named ‘Hazel Valley’ (hæsel (Old English) A hazel-tree, denu (Old English) A valley, cald (Middle English) Cold), it was gifted it to the community of St. Cuthbert by King Athelstan in 934.

Tony, a volunteer, has started research into the name origins behind Westoe in South Shields. Reading through various sources that include the ‘Doomsday Book’ and the ‘Bouldon Buke’, Tony’s beautifully written research is revealing that Westoe is derived from two Anglo-Saxon words: ‘wifes’ meaning women and ‘stow’ meaning habitation: with potential links to old monastic houses or a convent with land, known then as ‘Ladies Landes’.