Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Wrekenton: Named by a Historian! (NZ274590)

You don’t have to look far into the history of Wrekenton to discover that it appears to have been named by a historian. The famous antiquarian, Rev John Hodgson – he of the History of Northumberland fame – is said to have manufactured the word. He wrote, “After the enclosure of the common (in 1822), Mr Watson, of Warburton Place, Carrhill, founded a considerable village at this place, which, at my suggestion, he called Wrekenton.”

Hodgson created the word from the nearby Roman road, the Wrekendyke, which runs from this spot all the way to South Shields. Thus, ‘Wrenken-ton’ means ‘the homestead by the Wrekendyke’. Clever, eh? And so antiquarian-like!

‘Wrekendyke’ itself is an Anglo-Saxon word derived from the Old English wraecca, meaning ‘fugitive, or criminal’. So we have ‘the fugitive’s ditch/dyke’. We can just about recognise the old term in the modern word ‘wretch’.

It is possible that a Roman fort sat hereabouts, too – perhaps on the local golf course – but no trace of any such structure has yet been found.

Why not come along to...

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