Friday, 9 September 2011

There's Vikings in the Heather

Nottinghamshire to the north and west of the Trent was chosen as a royal forest for many reasons (see why Sherwood page) one of the reasons was the amount of waste ground or open heath, as well as due to the number of woods.

There were vast areas of heath in the northern part or High Forest area such as around the lordship of Rufford, Kirkby Waste, Kighill Waste and Salterford Waste.

Areas of heath also existed in the southern part known as Thorneywood chase– namely Nottingham Lyngges (now the goose fair site- called the Forest), Basford Lyngges (or Basforde Watse), Radforde Lyngges, Bulwell Lyngges and the large Arnhall (Arnold) Common.

The name Lyngges comes from the old Scandinavian for heather: lyng is Danish for heather, and ljung is the modern Swedish.

Nottinghamshire was part of the Danelaw (the area of northern and eastern England that had Danish or Scandinavian customs – more another time).

This is due to occupation by the Vikings, but recent research into genetics aslo reveals a far longer association stretching back to the repopulation of the islands after the last Ice Age.

The result is that placenames and language in the area are influenced by this cultural link.

The names of streets in Nottingham Bridlesmith gate, Fletcher Gate etc use the Scandinavian word 'Gata' to mean street.

Villages ending in ‘by’ such as Budby, Walesby etc come from the word for farm ‘by’ (still used in Sweden). This is also true of words ending in thorpe such as Gunthorpe.

Slang and vernacular language in the area still contains words lifted straight from Scandinavian languages- such as 'to Flit' to move quickly from the old Norse 'flytja'.

Possibly the most important Scandinavian placename in Medieval Sherwood Forest is Thynghowe… see the Thynghowe- ancient meeting place, and the Vikings of Sherwood Forest entries for more details...

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