Ravenstonedale Parish History Group

Some previous talks…

The Origins of Place Names in Cumbria by Jean Scott-Smith – 18th February 2015

A fascinating talk tracing the development of place-names from Old English, Celtic, Icelandic and other Scandinavian roots, as well as some Roman influences. The first written record of “Ravenstonedale” is in the early 13th century, and although there are many theories as to why that became the name of the settlement, the parts of the name come from hrafn (raven) stan (stone) dalr (dale), which are all of Scandinavian origin. “Newbiggin-on-Lune” is the New Building on the River Lune (lune is from the Celtic lon). Some more local names:

  • Lockholme – laukr (leeks or garlic) and holmr (water-meadow)
  • Bowderdale – buo (booth or shelter) and dalr (dale or valley)
  • Murthwaite – mor (moor) and thwaite (clearing)
  • Scandal – skammur (short) and dalr (valley)
  • Tranmoor and Tranna Hill – both refer to trani  (crane-haunted)
  • Uldale – ulfr (wolf – this is sometimes a personal name)
  • Weasdale – wesle (Old English for weasel)

Much food for thought!


A Woman’s Place in 17th Century Life in the Upper Eden by Margaret Gowling – 17th September 2014

Margaret Gowling’s research concentrated on the Brough and Kirkby Stephen area, and once again we were made to realise how very hard life was in past centuries for both women and men. Jobs were hard to come by, often seasonal and temporary, and families often had to travel long distances to seek work with little or no job security. Women could own nothing – even in the more prosperous classes, when a woman married, a dowry from her family would come with her; however, once she had married, the ownership of that dowry passed from her father to her husband – she never had any control over it. However, Margaret Gowling discovered while researching old Wills that those women who were left comfortably off by kind or enlightened fathers or husbands quite often became “bankers” in the local community, lending out money to relatives and to others for business purposes. So some women became powerful figures in the local community, but for others, life remained harsh.

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