Bagden – Valley of the Bees

Aerial view of Bagden (note early cultivation)

Bagden was called Bikden in medieval times, and as this extract shows it was called “Bargden” around 1600. Like many names in and around Whitworth it was mentioned in Medieval times. This was because many small pieces of land were traded or granted to Whalley Abbey, one theory is that the Abbey acted as a bank. There were also local contacts with the Abbey monks, some were from Whitworth.

Medieval references to Bagden (Bikden in medieval times)

Bikden – what does it mean? Valley of the Bees.


Bagden was called Bargden

Under construction!

General Medieval Links

Here are some general sites about Medieval England.

Medieval English Society

Medieval Timeline

English Legal History (including Medieval English Law)

Early English Laws (up to 1215)

English Medieval Legal Documents
AD 600 – AD 1535:

Medieval Economy

English Medieval Towns

Digital Medievalist (Digital Resources for Medieval Studies).

Medieval Sourcesonline from Manchester University Press.

Under Construction!

The Whalley Coucher Book and the dialectal phonology of Lancashire and Cheshire

The Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey is a treasure chest of medieval historical data for Lancashire. Sadly, despite being transcribed in the 19th C. it has been little studied.  Many archaeological surveys have failed to refer to the Coucher Book’s references to the areas they purport to cover (for example a study of Rooley Moor failed to mention a single medieval charter, yet there were nearly 100 in the nearby village of  Whitworth alone).

King’s thesis, detailed below, is a valuable contribution to the study of the Coucher Book and also has a really useful chronology of land tenure in Lancashire and Cheshire. This work also contributes to place-name research in Lancashire and Cheshire.

King, C. D . – The Whalley Coucher book and the dialectal phonology of Lancashire and Cheshire 1175-1350 . – University of St Andrews PHD Thesis, 1991 (Unpublished).

Download it here

ILS catalogue number: 15280797

EThOS Persistent ID:

David Collins
Repository Administrator
University of St Andrews Library

Great News -Thanks David!

Download The Place-Names of Lancashire

Many places in Lancashire were mentioned in medieval documents and there are many books and articles about their origins. Ekwall’s 1922 Place-names of Lancashire is a classic and is available copyright free.

Here is the contents page of this important 1922 study of the origin of Lancashire place-names.


Note This is a large file of 45 megabytes!

DOWNLOAD Place_names_of_Lancs_Ekwall

You will need the free Adobe Reader program to view the book, if it is not installed you can download it here.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 12:14 am  Comments (2)  
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Salford Hundred Heritage Society


A society has been formed to research the archaeology and early history of Salford Hundred, initially with emphasis on the area covered by the NE of Salford Hundred. The society’s website will be located here, it is currently under construction.

Why Salford Hundred?

Salford Hundred was the SE division of the historic division of the historic county of Lancashire. This historic area is now includes parts of the modern counties of Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire.  Studying the history of the area it makes more sense to research the historic region rather than the modern boundaries which cut across historic parishes areas. For example, the historic parish of Rochdale is now included in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

What are the aims of the society?

This blog has outlined the rich and little known medieval archives that relate to Salford Hundred and Lancashire. A long-term goal is to transcribe, translate and publish relevant medieval documents.


As well as history, archaeological survey complements the research into the early origins of the area. The first project will be the survey (including geophysical survey) of a site discovered from aerial photographs.


Geophysical survey reveals exciting results, and a detailed survey on a site on Rooley Moor Rochdale confirms the the archaeological potential of the site. More details will be available to members of the society.

After advice from English Heritage a project has been started with Groundwork volunteers to survey recent archaeological discoveries, watch this space!


Contact details on this new website under construction! Please contact me via a comment to this blog.

Under construction…

Eccles Places Mentioned in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey


In 1234 the advowson of Eccles Church was granted to Stanlaw Abbey (the Abbey later moved to Whalley). The details of the Abbey lands and the history of Eccles can be found here.

Place Names

Ekwall’s Place-name’s of Lancashire (p37-42) mentions some of the names in the  list shown above, “Westslak” for example.

The Slack (in Monton) : del Slake 1323 LI. Cf. [le] Westslak 13 cent. WhC 878.
M.E. slack (from O.N. slakki) a small, shallow dell or valley,” etc.

You can download Ekwall’s Place-names of Lancashire here.

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 8:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rochdale Land held by the Knights of John of Jerusalem

Based on the 1626 Manor Survey of Rochdale (Fishwick in 1913)  the land held by the Knights Hospitallers was:

Township –  Tenants

Castleton                    6

Spotland                     4

Hundersfield             6

Butterworth             31

Total ……………….47

Woodhouse in Rochdale (Spotland township) was owned by the Hospitallers and their extensive holdings in the area posed a security problem, so they asked and were granted permission to build their own gallows in Rochdale!

Download a 19th Century book about the Hospitallers  – Larking, Knights Hospitallers in England below.


You will need to use Adobe Reader,  get a free copy here.

Locating Places Mentioned in Medieval Documents

Where to Start

First, what was medieval life like, how did people farm? what were living conditions like? These questions can help in looking for medieval settlements in documents and the landscape. You can find some information about medieval life here.

Landscape and Land Ownership

Was settlement the same in Salford Hundred compared to a Hundred in Worcestershire, for example?  The landscape and the soil are very different and significantly it would appear so was land ownership. Not many villages have nearly 100 medieval charters as at Whitworth near Rochdale has. The number of individuals able to give land to Whalley Abbey contrasts with the usual idea of a single medieval lord and landowner.


Predominantly pastoral farming and a larger proportion of individual farmsteads was probably the norm for medieval life in the Pennine foothills of Salford Hundred. Many farmsteads visible today date back to medieval times, even though few obvious signs of medieval settlements remain. The number of places mentioned in Spotland township (Parish of Rochdale) in the Coucher Book of Whalley shows that many settlements date back to medieval times. In fact some place-names like Irreford have been lost.


Many medieval places are now lost or no longer recorded on current maps.  It may be possible to trace some of them from old maps, such as the 1850’s  Ordnance Survey Maps of Lancashire (more about digital versions below), or manor surveys and court records and later deeds that bridge the gap between medieval times and modern records.


“Fulebachehope” mentioned in the Coucher Book of  Whalley is now known as Bacup, showing just how much names can change over time.  The earlier a place-name is recorded the more certainty there is in finding the origin and meaning of the word.

Early Maps

Tithe maps and manor maps (such as the 18th Century Middleton map from the E7 Assheton estate collection at the Greater Manchester County Record Office ) can help  in locating places.

19th. Century OS Maps of Lancashire

Digital versions of the Ordnance Survey’s earliest maps of Salford Hundred can be found here and at this excellent site here.

See this excellent site for early Lancashire OS maps from the National Library of Scotland NLS Early Lancashire OS maps.

This interesting site has many old maps of Lancashire here

Researching Historic Buildings in the British Isles

This great site has information about maps and other documents as well as buildings, it is here.

Parish Registers

Parish records from Salford Hundred often go back to the 16th Century they can help locate people and places too. They have been extensively researched and published in a variety of formats.

You can read and download information from the Lancashire County Council site here.

Search the  On Line Parish Clerks for the County of Lancashire here, it is a really useful site.

Finding Place-Names and Field names

Places change over time and sometimes are shown on earlier maps but not on later versions of OS Maps.

You can search for place-names or place name elements here and here.

Field Names

Search for field names here.

Many field names may be recorded in manor surveys, though not indexed as such.

Manorial Records

Some manor records for Rochdale have been published (Chetham Society)  or partially transcribed. General information about manor records can be found here at the National Archives site.


Early wills are a valuable source of information too, read more here at the Medieval Genealogy site. The Wills and related information at Chester include places in Salford Hundred, such as Rochdale and Manchester.


The Chetham Society’s – Wills and Inventories of the Ecclesiastical Court here.

Hearth Tax

Many places and buildings mentioned in the Hearth Tax of 1662-1689 had been in existence since medieval times.

The national archives has information about the Hearth Tax here, and you can search the records in a database here, but it is still being developed.

The Centre for Hearth Tax research is here at Roehampton University London.


‘Magic’ is a national database of environmental data, it also includes ancient woodland information,  see it here.

Aerial Photography

Aerial photographs are now widely available on-line, sites such as Google Earth and Microsoft’s Bing allow quick terrain assessment.

Download and read about medieval sites and aerial photography here.  English Heritage has information about aerial photography here.


It is addictive and you might just find medieval and earlier sites.

Most important of all


Always walk the areas you are researching. Not all features show on aerial photographs and maps, and surface geology and vegetation can be important clues to sites and the names you are researching. This brings us to archaeology, and the recording of information that is absent from medieval records.

In the case of the now lost “Lake Kor” on the border between Healey and Whitworth (mentioned in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey)  the topology and old maps may help locate the site.

Comprehensive archaeological survey and fieldwork have yet to be undertaken in Salford Hundred, despite large urban  expanses, rural areas including moorland still survive. What is exciting, is that these areas are some of the least explored in Britain when it comes to medieval records and archaeology, see this blog.

Under construction…

(C) SMM 2009

Rochdale in the Domesday Book

Before the conquest,   Game the Thegnl had jurisdiction over Rochdale (Rochdale was called “Recedham” in the Domesday Book, ) except for  six exemptions, which  included “forestalingl”. In the medieval context this was the purchasing of goods to monopolise them and raise prices or restricting open access to goods at a market, however in Domesday this may be seen as relating to highway robbery and other crimes of violence mentioned under Rochdale’s Domesday entry.

West Derby ,which was a hundred,  had a  similar system to Rochdale (which was not a hundred), also being exempt from all but six infringements, each carried a 40 shilling fine, as in Rochdale.


Although Rochdale was a large parish, it was part of Salford Hundred, but it was called a “wapentake” in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey. It is worth noting that Saddleworth was in Yorkshire, even though it was part of Rochdale Parish.


Gamel is thought to have been based in Eland in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.  The Elland name was adopted by Gamel’s descendants and

“Hugh de Eland had in 1202 granted 2 oxgangs in Hundersfield to Thomas son of Jordan at a rent of 2s. 8d.”

‘Townships: Todmorden and Walsden’, A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5 (1911), pp. 229-234. URL: Date accessed: 15 August 2010.

The Ding or originally “Dinge” place-name on the moors north west of Rochdale may well refer to a “thing” or meeting place of the “wapentake”. You can read more about this place-name and the historical context for Rochdale here.

National Archives Domesday information is here.

Under construction…

(C) Stuart Mendelsohn 2009

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Healey names mentioned in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey

These personal names are from the Chetham Society, 19th Century transcription of the Medieval Latin of the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey.


Some, like Dolfinus, are the latin spelling of an Old Norse personal name.

Healey Places Mentioned in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey are shown below.

Healey Place-names mentioned in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey

Healey Place-names mentioned in the Coucher Book of Whalley Abbey

Lake Kor, a lost medieval lake which was  probably NW of Healey Dell is one of the fascinating references to Healey in the Coucher Book. Additionally Heleyden (Healey valley) and Heleysclogh are mentioned under Spotland (one of the four  medieval townships of Rochdale, see the Spotland list in this blog).

To be continued…

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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