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Canny lass

Hollymount

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On 02/05/2020 at 19:03, Canny lass said:

What I am about to do is to look at the different periods in language development, to see if any of the changes which took place can explain a possible change from Holy Mount to Hollymount.

... It’s worth mentioning here that these changes didn’t occur overnight. They were the result of long, drawn out processes which often took place over hundreds of years so a change which started in one developmental period may not have become established until the following period in the development.  

Can the name 'Holly Mount' be Celtic?

Practically the only place names surviving from our original language, Celtic, are topographical names, particularly names that describe the natural features of the landscape – like, for example,  Holly Mount - a hill with Holly. According to Charles Barber (The English Language, a Historical Introduction) quite a few of our rivers still have Celtic names: Avon and Ouse, he says, are Celtic words for water or stream, Derwent means Oak River and Thames means Dark River. A couple of our county names are also totally Celtic in origin, Kent and Devon, while some county names are Celtic in part only. Cumberland, to give an example, has the first part in Celtic, cumber, and the last part in English, land, and means “the land of the Cymry” that’s to say the land of the Welsh. I’m sure you recognize the word Cymry, meaning Welsh, from the name of a certain political party.  

Remember here, the Celts were the people who were driven south from all over England and eventually settled in Wales and Cornwall but today’s word  Welsh, when referring to the people of  Wales, bears no resemblance to the word Cymry, the reason for that being that it’s from a different language. The word Welsh has its origins not in Celtic but in Old English, the language introduced throughout the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions (700 – 1100 BC). Charles Barber, another scholar,  (The English Language: A Historical Introduction, 1997) says that the Old English word, wealh, from which Welsh is derived, originally meant ‘foreigner’ but went on to mean Celt, Welshman, servant or slave, which is what these people were to the invaders. Wealh, albeit in a somewhat distorted form, survives today in the second half of the county name Cornwall. And there you have a good example of how history is reflected in the language we speak. Nothing to do with place names but, by way of anecdote, I can tell you that it’s also found as wal  in our word ‘walnut’ from the same period’s wheal-hnutu – literally ‘a foreign nut’ (the shelled variety)! 

At this point, it’s tempting to think that Holly Mount may have its origins in Celtic, describing as it does a natural feature of the landscape, and not only that, the Holly was a much revered tree, worn in crowns by Celtic chieftains, highly sacred in Celtic mythology and planted near settlements to protect them from lightening strikes. https://thepresenttree.com/blogs/news/holly-tree-meaning. It seems they knew a thing or two those Celts as, in later years, the belief that Holly was resistant to lightening has proved to be justified! Those plantations themselves would create a landscape feature with which to  identify your whereabouts. 

However, Hollymount/Holly Mount is not a name unique to Bedlington, either as a place name or the name of a residential building. Can we get any clues from those? Have there been world wide, multiple, widely accepted linguistic changes from holy to holly? Or, perhaps multiple events of 'holy' significance? I’ve been able to find numerous examples, not only in England but as far afield as America and Australia. Nearer home, in Ireland, the name seems to have been particularly popular among goods owners. A Directory to the Market Towns, Villages, Gentlemen’s Seats and Other Noted Places in Ireland (1814 Ambrose Leet) lists eight “gentlemen’s seats” called Hollymount and one other called Hollymount House. The name was clearly popular at the beginning of the 19th century. Perhaps John Birkenshaw, in choosing the name Hollymount Hall, was simply following the fashion of the Irish gentry.

These Irish names are of particular interest because they are clearly not derived from any word meaning holy. We can see this by comparing their Irish Gaelic translations. This allows us to envisage how the name was much earlier in history. The name Hollymount translates to Cnoc an Chuillin where chuillin means Holly and Cnoc means hill. Here, there can be no doubt that the name refers to the Holly bush/tree because the word chuillin bears no resemblance to any of the Irish Gaelic words meaning holy: naofa, beannaithe, diaga or naomh and is therefore not a derivation or distortion of any of those words. The same result is obtained by comparison with another Celtic language, Welsh, and the name Bryn Celyn – Holly Hill. Here, celyn means holly while holy translates as cysegredig, gysegredig or cyseg-lân. There is a similarity, however, in the respective Celtic words for Holly, chuillin and celyn and we can also see a trend in the use of this bush/tree in place names.  

Another interesting linguistic comparison lies in the order of the words. In English we place the noun (the thing being described) last – Holly Mount. The modifier (the word describing or giving more information about that thing) is placed first – Holly Mount, Holy Mount. In the Celtic languages that order is reversed: Cnoc an Chuillin (Irish Gaelic) means literally ‘Hill the Holly’ as does the Welsh equivalent ‘Bryn Celyn’ - holy hill. As I said earlier, there aren’t many Celtic names left in Britain but I’ve managed to find one on Internet that illustrates the point: ‘Aberdeen’, where Aber means mouth (estuary) and is placed first while dee the name of the river is placed last. Compare that with: Tynemouth, Monmouth or Exmouth. This suggests that ‘Hollymount’ may be a later addition to the English language.

Next, we'll have a look at the Old English period of the development of the English language. It's a period of great changes.

To be continued ...

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1 hour ago, Canny lass said:

the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions (700 – 1100 BC).

That should, of course, read AD, not BC. Sorry!

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On 06/05/2020 at 16:18, Canny lass said:

Next, we'll have a look at the Old English period of the development of the English language. It's a period of great changes.

To be continued ...

First, a correction:  “Cnoc an Chuillin (Irish Gaelic) means literally ‘Hill the Holly’ as does the Welsh equivalent ‘Bryn Celyn’ - holy hill”.  That should read holly hill and not holy hill.

 Moving on to the Old English period (OE) 700 – 1100 AD, the Romans had now left Britain but there’s not a lot of evidence to throw any light on what effect they had on the language. What little does remain of their influence is, strangely enough, found in place names.  We know that they built military settlements and this is visible today in the names of their major settlements, now ending in –chester which is derived from the Latin castra meaning camp. According to David Crystal The English Language (1990), there’s also the odd borrowed word such as street from straet, but this is of no help to us in unraveling the mystery of Hollymount. I think we can safely say the Romans had no part to play in that name.

 However, what happened next had a profound effect on the language as Crystal goes on to explain. It was a turbulent time for England with many invasions and this turbulence also found its way into the English language. The sheer number of invaders eventually outnumbered the Celts making it easy for their languages to get a grip on England.

 England had become a nation of small kingdoms each battling for supremacy and the same thing was happening with their languages. The result, however, was not one united language for England but four different dialects: Northumbrian, Mercian, Kentish and West Saxon. Northumbrian and Mercian came from the Angles, Kentish from the Jutes and West Saxon from the Saxons. The Northumbrian dialect went on to be greatly influenced by the Vikings but it was Mercian that went on to become the standard English which we use today- hardly surprising as Mercian was the dialect of London -  the seat of power.

 As if that wasn’t enough for England to be dealing with, side by side with those invasions another invasion of a more ‘spiritual’ nature was happening as Irish monks arrived to establish Christianity (and monastic buildings) the length and breadth of England. Many of their buildings, Lindisfarne among them, have not stood the test of time and are now in ruins but their contribution to the English language, in the form of the Latin alphabet and many Latin words, has done somewhat better as most of the words they introduced are still in use today. Understandably, most of these words relate to the church: abbot, chalice and hymn as well as many of the words used in church services but some words relate even to their monastic lifestyle with its self-sufficiency in housekeeping, such as: radish, plant, oyster and candle but they left nothing in the way of place names to help explain Hollymount.

 The Old English period of language development also saw a start to writing manuscripts in this new ‘language’ and those that have survived give a fair amount of authentic research material. The majority of the written material which survives from the period is written in West Saxon dialect but the oldest surviving texts, noted by both Barber and Crystal, are in the Northumbrian dialect: Caedmon’s Hymn, Bede’s Death Song, the poem Leiden Riddle and of course the several thousand names and places in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, translated from Latin at the request of King Alfred in the second half of the ninth century. Credit must be given here to our North Eastern forefathers who never let anything go to waste if it could be saved for later use! Thank heavens it didn’t end up torn into neat squares and threaded on a string, to be hung behind the door of some draughty, outdoor netty, as has been the fate of so much other written material! What a service they did for historical linguists everywhere!

 Understandably, there were major changes throughout the period in many aspects of language: spelling, grammar, pronunciation, an ever increasing amount of new words and, of course, place names. During the Old English period, topographical names continued to be used and some new Celtic names may have appeared. Some totally Anglo-Saxon names would certainly have appeared as the invaders built their new settlements and some names, like the previously mentioned Cumberland, mixtures of the two languages, would also appear as the dialects rubbed shoulders with each other. However, the Anglo-Saxon invasions caused a new type of place name to emerge. As land was being taken by invaders, numerous settlements were appearing and these were being named after the chieftains or landowners – presumably of high status and therefore well known should one wish to find one’s way by asking.

 Most of us are aware of a couple of Old English (OE) place name endings: –ton from the OE tun, meaning an enclosure, farmstead or hamlet and –ham from the OE ham, meaning homestead or from hamm, meaning meadow. Barber in his study The English Language, a Historical Introduction (1997) adds -ley from OE leah meaning wood or glade, -field from OE feld meaning open country and several other endings of a topographical nature. Hollymount, having neither ‘endings’ nor personal names to help us, requires us to now break down the word into its component parts – holly and mount – to look for clues. As previously said, topographical names were still being constructed during the period so all hope is not lost.

 Next, I’ll be reporting my findings on holly and mount and having a look for any connections with holy.

 … to be continued.

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Thanks Maggie! It's good to have something to keep me busy!

Things are about to happen as we near the end of the Old English period and the next period, Middle English, begins bringing more invasions, more new words, recycling of old words and  the sound system starts going wild!

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On 11/05/2020 at 16:36, Canny lass said:

As previously said, topographical names were still being constructed during the period so all hope is not lost.

 Next, I’ll be reporting my findings on holly and mount and having a look for any connections with holy.

... As I described earlier, there were many changes during the Old English (OE) period of development, not least in the amount of new words which swelled the lexical coffers of the language so, It can be of interest here to see if any of the words: holly, holy and mount, entered Britain along with the invaders. My main sources of reference, unless otherwise noted, are the Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology (1996) (OCDEE) or its digital equivalent at: https://www.oxfordreference.com. 

It seems logical to start with holly because we know the Holly tree existed in Celtic times. We also know that it exists today and therefore it seems reasonable to assume that it existed 700 - 1100 AD and would need a name. The OCDEE tells us that it was then called holegn - meaning literally ‘to prick’ - and it’s not difficult to see some relation with the word holly. Neither is it difficult to see some relation to the invading Germanic languages in the Old Saxon word hulis with the same meaning so we can safely assume that holegn arrived with the invaders. While the first recorded evidence is from the twelfth century, shortly after the end of the OE period, the word would have become established in the OE period.  These changes take time.

We even know how it was pronounced.

During my education, the phonetics (sound system) of the language was never one of my favourite areas. I crammed in enough to get me through the exams and accumulated a great deal of notes in the process. I am now thankful for the latter for there I can read that, despite the seemingly weird spelling, Old English is not hard to pronounce. You simply pronounce every letter! The sounds are pretty much the same as those we have now and most are even represented by the same letter.  

One exception, however, is the letter ‘g’ - as in holegn. Apart from being used for the sounds which we now spell with ‘g’ (garden, beggar, and pig) it was also used to represent the sound we now, sometimes, spell with ‘y’ (yard, yacht, and yesterday). A third sound represented by ‘g’ no longer exists in English. This sound can best be described, by me, as the sound you make at the beginning of what we northerners would call a good, old-fashioned ‘hockle’ – ‘clearing one’s throat’ to the uninitiated. It still exists in Dutch, German and Spanish and, according to my notes; there is still a hint of it in the Liverpool dialect! That type of ‘g’ sound has disappeared but in modern English spelling it left a trail, in the ‘w’ of words like law, draw and bow (of ship), as spelling reforms attempted to reproduce the ‘hockle’ sound of ‘g’ in the Germanic words lag, drag and bog. That ‘g’ still remains in the spelling of some other Germanic languages - including Swedish from which those examples are taken. 

Moving on to mount I’m also assuming, that like holly, the phenomenon mount/hill was around throughout the period under discussion and there must have been a word with which the invading Anglo-Saxon settlers could refer to it. The entry for mount in the Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology (1996) tells us that the OE word was munt and that it had two other meanings: ‘earthwork’ and ‘mound’, but both became obsolete. It doesn’t seem like too big a step from munt to mount but that change doesn’t appear to have taken place before the OE period ended at the beginning of the twelfth century. 

That leaves ‘holy’. We’ve already seen that there are some similarities in form which may have assisted the transition between holegn and its modern English equivalent ‘holly’. Were there also similarities between holegn and the OE word for ‘holy’ which could account for the transition of ‘holly’ to ‘holy’ at that time? Could the two words have sufficient similarity to allow a slip of the tongue which started the ball rolling, so to speak? The short answer to that is no, the reason being that England was still in the grip of the ‘spiritual’ invasion and the language of choice for all matters ecclesiastical was Latin, recently brought by the Irish monks, and sanctus would have been the word in use, as in Sanctus Spiritus meaning, as it does to this day, Holy Ghost. So, holy, with any religious connotation, did not appear to exist.  From that, I draw the conclusion that, while the name Holly Mount was possible during the Old English period, its transformation to Holy Mount was not. 

However, there was another word, from the OE period – the Old Saxon word halig (pronounced similarly to Harley + that ‘hockle sound’ on the ‘g’). It is clearly Germanic in origin, being related to the Old Dutch heilig and the Old Norse heilagr but it had no religious meaning. It appears, instead, to have meant “of good augury” (a good sign/omen) or “inviolate” (free or safe from injury or bad health). It has not been possible to find out what it meant in pre-Christian times but probably meant “that must be preserved whole or intact”. www.etymonline.com  Indeed, the word ‘whole’ seems to have been derived from hal and I’m told by a Scottish acquaintance, an English teacher, that the first half, hal, lives on in the expression “hale and hearty”. I haven’t been able to research that yet but it would appear reasonable to me. Anyhow, it was this word, halig that eventually, over a few centuries, became the word ‘holy’ which we know today. I’ll be having a closer look at its transition shortly and bringing it closer to home - in Durham. 

By way of anecdote: halig was also a close relative of the Old High German word heilig – the first part of which most of us can recognise from a popular greeting of a certain German furor. Now, you’d be forgiven for asking why anybody would use the word holy in reference to Adolf Hitler. The answer is that while the OE word halig has, over a few centuries, changed its meaning the Old High German word, heilig, has not and therefore retains its connotations of good health and good luck. 

To be continued …

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On 03/05/2020 at 12:48, Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) said:

@Canny lass - @Ovalteeny might have download and saved some photos  and info of Hollymount Hall from the  Bedlington Facebook groups as his family lived there for a couple of years. This is the one photo of Hollymount Hall that I have downloaded.

Hollymount Hall.jpg

Hollymount Hall2.jpg

621423990_Hollymounthall2(2).thumb.jpg.7bbe60129fa802cc51959267a61a0cc7.jpgYou can see from this angle that there was quite a large extension to the hall not visible in the first photo.

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Thanks James! That's a great photo showing that the size (and shape) of the place are the same as on the map.

Thanks Maggie! During the Middle ages Holly went on to have great symbolic value for Christians as well, which is why we 'deck the halls' with it at Christmas. In the carol from which 'deck the halls' is taken Holly represents Jesus and the ivy represents his mother Mary. Just now, I can't agree that the name of the tree is derived from holy, partly because Holly was here long before Christianity, and therefore all things holy, but mostly because the two word have completely different roots. The word Holly, in very similar form, is recorded as early as 1150 but holy doesn't make an appearance until well into the fourteenth century. I'm dealing with that transition just now and you should have a report at the weekend. However, I'm not closing any doors yet.

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Religions reused imagery and dates to celebrate their own particular celebration of what was considered worthy of worship. I am thinking of nature , the seasons , night and day plus the circle of life ( not just human). Mithras /Easter and eggs for example. Now sure where chocolate come into it all?

If ‘Holy’ as a word comes later perhaps ‘Holly’ came first.
In Scandinavia or Icelandic religion  perhaps it was a sign of the eternal . 

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Yesterday, while looking for a relative among the Poll Books and Electoral Registers for the Horton Chapelry, 1840, I stumbled across Michael Longridge! So, wondering if there was anything of interest to be gained I continued, though not in any depth, up until the time of his death in 1858.

The early electoral registers contain the names of those who were ‘entitled’ to vote’ and the nature of the qualifications’ they possessed which earned them that entitlement – usually freehold property. The nature of the freehold is usually abbreviated to a letter or combination of letters but, unfortunately, these abbreviations are rarely, if ever, explained and I haven't got the hang of them even now. Naturally, the registers contain only males as females (a small percentage thereof) were not admitted to the register until 1918. 

What I can see is that Michael Longridge and his sons, who also appear in the registers, seem to have been men of means, owning property not only in Horton Parish but even in Bedlington Parish and Sunderland throughout the period looked at – 1840-1858:

1840, Michael Longridge is resident in Bedlington and owns Cowpen High House. Two of his children, James Atkinson Longridge living in Newcastle and William Smith Longridge living in Bedlington, both own 1/3 of a freehold house- address, Bedlington Iron Works.

 1847, Michael L. is still living in Bedlington and owns “s.of.f.” land & houses in Bedlington. I’ve no idea what s.of.f. means. I’ve deduced from other parts of the register that ‘f’ often means farm - but not always!. James A. is now resident in Bedlington, owning “land and col. as o.” in Bedlington. William S. is still living in Bedlington and owns a freehold house in Freehold Place, Bedlington. I’ve seen this on a census report earlier and I believe it was somewhere in the area of the top-end: Front Street West/ Glebe Row. Two other sons, Robert Bewick Longridge and Charles John Longridge appear. Both are resident in the Bedlington Parish. Robert’s place of abode is given as Bedlington and he, like his brother William, owns a freehold house in Freehold Place. Charles’ address is given as Bedlington Ironworks and he  is the owner of a freehold cottage – also in Freehold Place.

 1852, Michael L. is still living in Bedlington and still owns “s.of.f.” land & Houses in Bedlington. James is still in Bedlington and owns “s.of f.” cottages, also in Bedlington. William also remains in Bedlington, owning the same property as in 1847. Robert Bewick Longridge is not registered in this part of the register and Charles, now registered as living in Bedlington, rather than at the Ironworks, still owns his freehold cottage in Bedlington. Another son, Henry Gordon Longridge is registered as resident in Bedlington and owning, like his brother James, “s.of f.” cottages.

 1853, I cannot find Michael registered here further than 1852 but, as I said, I haven’t dug anywhere else. James, William, Robert, Charles and Henry are all registered as owning 1/6 of a freehold house in Low Street Sunderland but the family seems to have split as James is once again living in Newcastle and Charles is resident in Wallbrook, London. However, a couple of years later, 1855, the poll book shows him once again in Bedlington and then owning freehold cottages and gardens.

Charles died in Manchester 1859, one year after his father – whom he probably inherited along with his siblings. Something that I find a bit odd is that his will, executed by his brother, William (also Manchester), shows him as leaving “effects under £100.

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Here we are again, it's Friday night already! Time to give the old grey cells a bit of a going over:

1.       Which was the first team to win the FA Cup at Wembley?

2.       What is the name given to an all-consuming passion for power?

3.       Wenceslas looked out on the feast of whom?

4.       Which palace was the main London residence of the monarch until it was superseded by Buckingham Palace?

5.       Which is the largest of these islands: Zanzibar, Sri Lanka or Madagascar

6.       How long is a dog watch at sea?

7.       Which creature’s Latin name is Bufo bufo?

8.       Which drug of abuse is known as Smack?

9.       In which street is the New York Stock Exchange situated?

10.   What was Chris de Burgh’s 1986 nr.1 hit?

11.   Who was Frank Sinatra’s second wife?

12.   Galena is the chief source of which metal?

 

I’ll bet you didn’t know …

The nose of the Statue of Liberty is 4’ 6” long.

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1 hour ago, Canny lass said:

Here we are again, it's Friday night already! Time to give the old grey cells a bit of a going over:

1.       Which was the first team to win the FA Cup at Wembley?                                                                                                  Preston North                                                                                                                                                                                                                    End

2.       What is the name given to an all-consuming passion for power?                                                                                      Dictator   

3.       Wenceslas looked out on the feast of whom?                                                                                                                       Eden

4.       Which palace was the main London residence of the monarch until it was superseded by Buckingham Palace?   St James                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Palace

5.       Which is the largest of these islands: Zanzibar, Sri Lanka or Madagascar                                                                        Madagascar

6.       How long is a dog watch at sea?                                                                                                                                               4hrs     

7.       Which creature’s Latin name is Bufo bufo?                                                                                                                              Frog

8.       Which drug of abuse is known as Smack?                                                                                                                               Cocaine

9.       In which street is the New York Stock Exchange situated?                                                                                                   Wall st.

10.   What was Chris de Burgh’s 1986 nr.1 hit?                                                                                                                                  Lady in red  

11.   Who was Frank Sinatra’s second wife?                                                                                                                                       Mia Farrow

12.   Galena is the chief source of which metal?                                                                                                                               Lead

 

I’ll bet you didn’t know …

The nose of the Statue of Liberty is 4’ 6” long.

 

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On 17/05/2020 at 22:49, Canny lass said:

From that, I draw the conclusion that, while the name Holly Mount was possible during the Old English period, its transformation to Holy Mount was not. 

Correction: This should not read TO Holy Mount but FROM Holy Mount. 

Continuing ... Make a cuppa!

Moving on into the next period of development, Middle English (ME) roughly 1100 – 1450 AD, England suffered a new invasion, this time from the French-speaking Normans. William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 but it was many years before the effects of the invasion were seen in the language because, despite being in power for over 300 years, the French were never able to establish their language as the language of the nation.

 There appear to be two reasons for this. Firstly, unlike the Anglo-Saxon invaders, the French never quite managed to outnumber the Anglo-Saxon population so Anglo-Saxon English remained strong as Joe Bloggs continued to speak and write his Anglo-Saxon dialect. Secondly, the class division that came, and grew, with the invaders meant that the Normans, mostly aristocratic, and the Anglo-Saxon hoi polloi didn’t rub shoulders with each other to any great extent.  The language barrier was certainly one reason but the class barrier was probably greater. 

While the language remained strong it developed neither unity nor standardization.  In fact, the four dialects of the Old English period, far from becoming a united English language, developed instead into ‘five’ dialects as the Mercian  dialect area, expanded southwards and quickly developed two  different dialects:  West Midland- and East Midland. This happened because the language had developed in two different directions – the East under Danelaw and Viking Influence, the West under the rule and influence of King Alfred.  

With the French aristocracy now the new ruling class the key positions in many institutions went to Normans and this situation, with French dominating in positions of power, lasted for a couple of hundred years allowing the language of the aristocracy to also become the language of the corridors of power, the arts, the church, the military, law, medicine, the seats of learning, the royal court and anything else of importance.  Eventually, with English no longer being the language of the upper class, culture and administration, the West Saxon dialect lost its footing in those domains. This resulted in there being no common standard in English and, having no standard, people spoke and wrote in the dialect of their own region.  

This is not to say that the Norman invasion did not have some influence on the development of the English language. Probably the most noticeable influence of the Normans, described by Crystal in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (1999) was the 10 000 French words which entered the language at that time, mostly within the domains outlined above:  prison, army, music, grammar and sculpture, to mention just a few. They came in through the penthouse, as it were, and filtered down to us in the basement and most of them are still with us.  On a more day to day note, the Normans even left a trace of their daily lifestyle with words such as: spice, salmon, tart (of the edible type), veal, venison and, at the other end of the alimentary process, excrement - the latter causing the relegation of the Anglo-Saxon scytel - pronounced sheetel - (s-h-i-t) to the ranks of the vulgar where it remains to this day.  History reflected in language!

Further French influence is seen in the changes to both spelling and pronunciation of the Anglo-Saxon’s Old English. And it’s here we can see some evidence of development in our words Holly, holy and mount. Spelling was already somewhat chaotic after the Roman scribes introduced the Latin alphabet, padded out with a few symbols from the runic alphabet to emulate all the sounds, but if you’re looking for the reason why English spelling can use the same ‘ou’ spelling for so many different sounds as in rough, cough, tough, though, thought and through then look no further! It’s here that many of the rules and oddities of modern English spelling have their beginnings - because the Normans had their own ideas about spelling the sounds of English.  

They  removed the runic symbols and replaced them with Latin letters and spelling changes were slowly introduced to show the different pronunciations of long and short vowel sounds– that’s to say, the difference between the short sounds in spat, bet,  fit, lock and pull compared to the long sounds of spa, beet, fight, look and pool. In Old English the letter representing these sounds would have been the same for each pair, (a, i, e, o and u respectively). Some earlier scribes had begun to represent the sound difference by placing a horizontal line above the vowel letter to indicate that the sound it represented was long but the Norman scribes introduced, very early, a new system of differentiation. Long vowels got an extra vowel letter while short vowels  were followed by an extra consonant letter giving words like looc and locc (look and lock). This system, with some modification, is still in use.

It is this change that is responsible for the double ‘l’ in Holly as the OE word,  holegn, got an extra consonant letter, i n this case ‘l’ (hollegn) – to show that the ‘o’ was short. Later in the period, as the ‘hockle’ sound disappeared, the letter ‘g’ was no longer needed in the spelling, leaving the word hollen (or sometimes hollin). This alternative spelling shows us that the last vokal may already have been pronounced  'ee' as in' been'. Now we are beginning to see a better resemblance to the word Holly and we can see that the short vowel sound is retained throughout the transition from holegn through hollen to Holly. (CODEE)

 Even the OE munt (mount), probably pronounced with the same short vowel sound as in 'pull, seems to have been had some sort of revival possibly through  the Norman French spelling, mont (OCDEE), bringing us nearer to its present day spelling. Scholars seem uncertain as to which of the two words went on to become ‘mount’. But Barber seems to err on the side of munt becoming mount as the Middle English spelling of the short ‘u’ sound of munt was often later spelled with ou or even ow , with the addition of a second vowel letter showing that the sound was clearly the same as it is today. However, the first recorded evidence of the present day spelling is from the sixteenth century.

 What happened to the Old English word halig? Was it at this time that it became holy? I’ll tell you about that in a day or two and then we can move on and apply what we know to Bedlington’s Hollymount..

 To be continued …..

 

Edited by Canny lass
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Bringing us up to the present day ...

The Anglo-Saxon word halig, meaning “of good augury” (a good sign/omen) or “inviolate” (free or safe from injury or bad health), was already in use in Old English and there is good evidence to support a theory that it adopted some religious significance during the Middle English period (1100-1450). We find this evidence very near to home – in Durham.

 William M Aird in his work, St Cuthbert and the Normans: The Church of Durham, 1071-1153 (1998), tells us of Cuthbert’s importance in defining the identity of those who lived in the “Liberty of Durham”, an area of private jurisdiction not directly administered by the king but by someone who enjoyed the same, or similar, rights – in this case the Bishop of Durham. Cuthbert, Aird says, became an important symbol of the autonomy of the area and because of this the people living there became known as the “Haliwerfolc”. Knowing what we know so far, it’s not too difficult to break that word down into its component parts: haliw-er-folc. Haliw is the OE word halig, the letter ‘g’ having been replaced by ‘w’ in an attempt to reproduce the ‘hockle’ sound which I discussed earlier. Er is a Middle English genitive implying a connection to (rather than ownership of) a thing or person and no prizes for guessing that folc means folk.

 From this we can see that at the beginning of the Middle English period the word halig has acquired a definite religious significance. There are some who believe there is a relationship between ‘whole’ and ‘holy’ and that the religious sense of holy may have developed from keeping believers spiritually whole. https://www.google.com/search?q=holy+etymology&rlz=1C1GGGE_svSE562SE627&oq=holy&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j35i39l2j0j46j0l2j46.8504j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

A quick peruse of the Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology confirms that the roots of whole and holy are in fact the same – hal. In retrospect, “whole” and “free from injury” do have a lot in common.  Barber, The English Language, a Historical Introduction (1997), notes that already at the beginning of the period, 1100 AD, a few other Anglo-Saxon words were being used in relation to Christianity, among them: eastre (Easter), derived by Bede from the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated at the vernal equinox and  hel  (Hell), then meaning to cover or conceal.

 However, halig despite its transferred meaning is still being pronounced with the long vowel sound ‘a’, as in Harley (without the ‘r’). This pronunciation appears to have changed early in the Middle English period in a series of vowel changes which included the previously mentioned munt to mount when some short vowel sounds were lengthened. Several scholars have described these changes, and among them is the transition of the Old English long vowel sound ‘a’, as in Harley, to a different vowel sounding like ‘aw’. Scholars usually compare it to the vowel sound in law but, having heard this sound during my studies, I prefer to liken it to the same vowel sound ‘aw’ in bought but with a heavy leaning towards the Geordie pronunciation of boat. This new sound was represented in spelling by the letter ‘o’ so that halig/haliw became holig and, like Hollen, it eventually lost its last consonant. These changes, I might add, only occurred in the north of England and the reason why is as yet unexplained. My own personal theory is related to influence from the Viking invasions. Southern England continued to use ‘a’ both in speech and writing and later, towards the end of the Middle English period, we find the first recorded evidence of holy in its present form, translated from the ecclesiastical Latin, sanctus spiritus meaning Holy Ghost in the Wycliffe Bible of 1382. 

 A further change to some long vowel sounds occurred in the following period of Early Modern English (1450-1700) – but this time only in the south, more particularly in the London area. In a process which lasted at least two hundred years, and probably the biggest ever change in the pronunciation of English, The Great Vowel Shift, as it’s come to be known, changed the pronunciation of a special group of vowel sounds – those long vowel sounds which are formed at the back of the mouth, like the ‘a’ in halig.  The result was vowel sounds which were formed at the front of the mouth, like the ‘o’ in holy which halig became. This was not, however, the same ‘o’ sound being used in the north. This was the result of a completely different process. The southern ‘o’ sound was the sound we now hear in what we call the Queen’s English, or ‘posh’ English as some call it, when the word ‘boat’ is said. So, for many years we had two different pronunciations of the word holy- one sounded like Queen Elizabeth II, the other like @High Pit Wilma.

 It’s not really known why this major change occurred. Several theories have been put forward. The redistribution of people due to the Black Plague causing changes in the vernacular of London is one such theory, while the hoi polloi’s struggle with pronunciation of the influx of French loanwords is another. A third is a wave of nationalism which swept over England when French rule finally ceased in the fifteenth century. No one really knows. What we do know is that it added to the confusion and irregularity of English spelling in a very big way causing pronunciation and spelling to diverge even further.

 Many other languages have undergone a similar ‘shift’: German, Spanish, Latin and French for example, but their nations have, through spelling reforms etc. tried to bring the written language nearer the spoken. In England, there is, traditionally, no regulating body for this sort of thing so the idiosyncrasies, irregularities and difficulties of English spelling remain. Thank heavens for that, I say! Without them we would not be able to see and feel the wings of history in our language.

Even though the language is constantly changing, no major changes have occurred since The Great Vowel Shift and for this reason I don’t intend to research our words, Holly, holy and mount, any further. They have, to a great extent, arrived at their modern day form and pronunciation by the end of the Early Modern English period in 1700 AD but, it was some years later that the southern variant of pronunciation became the Standard English pronunciation. This is hardly surprising as the seat of power was London. London had always been part of the dominating dialect area: first on the southern border of Mercia, then included in the East Midland dialect area which was later accepted as the standard variant of English much thanks Caxton’s printing press. There’s a saying in linguistic circles that the difference between a dialect and a language is that a language has an army and a fleet of ships. It’s true! All over the world standard languages have arisen from the adoption of the dialect spoken in the areas of power, administration and finance – the capital cities.  

Time to move on to Bedlington now and a question: Does anybody know of any map of Bedlington before 1806? If you do I’d love to hear about it. 

To be continued ….

Edited by Canny lass
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16 minutes ago, Canny lass said:

Bringing us up to the present day ...

 

To be continued ….

And I hope you are now going out into the garden and allowing nature to relax your thoughts and give that brain a rest 🌼🦋🍹

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7 hours ago, Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) said:

And I hope you are now going out into the garden and allowing nature to relax your thoughts and give that brain a rest

Oddly enough, most of that was done in the garden! surrounded by nature The only real indoor work was in the library, which I did before the corona restrictions, and some bedtime reading. The isolation gave me the time to sort out my notes and write it up. Fortunately, apart from two snow days mid May we've had great weather - and still have!

As for giving the brain a rest: Brains 'of a certain age' should not be put out to pasture. They should be exercised regularly, fed continuously with new things to do and 'rest' only while sleeping.

Edited by Canny lass
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Impressive research Canny Lass.

A well deserved whisky after  your write up on line.

 

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Thanks Maggie! There are some conclusions to be drawn and a couple of questions arising from it. I'll get round to them a bit later. Then it's more research to find out when it came to Bedlington.

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I have just read the postings above, excellent research Canny Lass.

My maternal grandfather (born County Durham 1892) came back from WW1, married a Lincolnshire lass and lived for a year or so with her family. They came up to the north east circa late 1920 and for whatever reason decided to settle in Northumberland. His Army pension card shows that he lived in Bedlington until circa 1922 before moving across to Ashington. The record card shows that his Bedlington address was Hollymount Cottages. Does anyone know anything about these cottages? I presume that they were built much the same time as Hollymount Hall.

Any info would be welcome.

Thank you,

Allan

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Thank you AllanUK!

There are two Hollymount Cottages taken up in the 1911 census, both small dwellings with only 2 rooms housing families of 3 and 4 persons. In both cases the enumerator gives the address simply as "Hollymount" as does one resident, George Gilroy.  George notes under number of rooms: "Cottage: two rooms". The second resident, George's next door neighbour, Robert Todd, gives his address as "Hollymount Cottages".

The cottages appear to be situated next to the main house. The first section of which now has dwellings of 2-4 rooms numbered 2 -12. The next 9 dwellings are given the address Hollymount House though some of the residents write Hollymount Hall. 

 I think you are probably correct in assuming that they belonged to the house and I believe the first set of dwellings may have been situated in the rear part of the house while the second set were in the front part nearest the gardens.

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