21 July, 2024

What’s in a Name

During the Ice Age certainly when the ice began to recede, the Vale of Pickering was becoming a vast lake but not a very deep one. Areas where Broughton, Swinton and Amotherby are now for instance would have been right on the edge of the lake making them ideal places to inhabit. On the other side of the Vale towards Scarborough is the site of Star Carr which is proved to have been inhabited 7000 years ago. This makes it one of the oldest discoveries. This site was alongside the lake’s edge. How many more sites would there have been at this time situated at the lake’s edge? Nothing so far has been found. To prove the existence of any civilisation you have to rely on any archaeological finds and in Broughton there have been a few.


First recorded name for the settlement was in the 11th century and called Brostone changing between the 11th century and the 13th century to Broctune. Between the 13th and 16th century it became known as Broghton.

The modern name of Broughton is a very common one, there being about 19 in England and Wales but all are minor settlements. The word Broc in old English signifies a brook or a stream. This does not occur before AD 730, previous to this the word Burna was used for a stream especially in Yorkshire and Northumberland, changing to Burn further north. Examples in this area are Welburn, of which there are two and Winterburn which means an intermittent stream. The Welburn at Kirbymoorside is alongside the Hodge Beck which in drought disappears from sight to re emerge just before Welburn.

BROC-TUN refers to a settlement alongside a stream. The word Broc refers to a small stream. It is possible that the Broc at Broughton flowed at certain times of the year. But where was the stream? The reason why there is no watercourse now, in fact no watercourses on the Broughton side of the Rye until the beck at Wath is because of the underlying rock which is limestone, the cause of hard water problems.

The road B1257, which is of Roman origin which runs just above the village, seems to be the dividing line which separates a possible watercourse from the village. Looking at the contours this watercourse could have its origins north of Close Farm. As it descends, to the west of the public bridleway known as Broughton Lane is a typical small dry valley, starting in the grass field called Eastvale/Ashvale by locals. This valley has steep sides on both sides with the gradient sloping fairly steeply towards Broughton as you would expect as the Rye valley would have been either a lake or a very boggy area. Approximately half way up the field there is a harder band of rock running from left to right which would have made a waterfall. As the centuries went by, as in limestone areas, water always finds a way through underground by dissolving the limestone joints then running in small channels further underground. Limestone itself is non porous, eg, water cannot run through it but the rock has numerous joints or cracks or faults in it which is worn away by water action. The water now goes underground and flows into the Rye Basin and collects in the various bore holes and wells that provide us with our water from the Ness area

The 1854 map of the area shows that limestone quarries abounded and of course limekilns. The limestone is of poor quality and as can be seen on old cottages in the area the limestone has weathered quite badly but on the other hand could be broken down by burning for use on the land.

Glenn Stott


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