REGULAR T&A contributor DAVE WELBOURNE continues his look at old sayings, with this article on the link between the Yorkshire dialect and the Vikings.

In AD 793 the Vikings invaded Lindisfarne in Northumberland, ransacking the monastery of St. Cuthbert. For a number of years, the east coast was subjected to incessant raids. England was divided into four kingdoms: Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia. When ‘the Great Heathen Army’ of Norsemen landed in E. Anglia in 865 AD, it rampaged through the country until only Wessex led by Alfred the Great stood up successfully to this assault. In 878 AD, Alfred defeated Guthrum’s Viking army at Edington which led to a peace agreement. Part of this treaty involved the establishment of ‘Danelaw’, where groups of Vikings were allowed to settle, largely in the north and east of England, living alongside the Saxon population, trading and integrating peacefully.

In these areas Viking customs and laws tended to prevail. Yorkshire was in the kingdom of Northumbria with its capital Jorvik (York). By examining a map of this region we can see the Viking legacy, because many of these villages and towns owe their place names to our Scandinavian cousins:

‘By’ - farmstead or village (Whitby, Selby);

‘Thorpe’ - new village (Scunthorpe, Gristhorpe);

‘Thwaite’ - meadow (Yokenthwaite, Slaithwaite);

‘Dale’ - valley (Wharfedale, Swaledale).

With this settlement came the Norse language which has formed the basis of much of ‘the Yorkshire language’ or dialect.

Following my previous article on Yorkshire words I had a correspondence from someone, originally from Bradford, who had been to Norway and was amazed how many Norweigan words were similar to those used in Yorkshire. I decided to research this further, and here are just a few examples with, where possible, the Old Norse word, which illustrates just how much we owe to the Vikings.

Beck - stream - bekher

Brig - bridge or rocky headland - briggja

Cam - bank or ridge - kamber

Carr - marshy woodland - kjarr

Crake - crow - kraka

Fell - hill - fjell

Flags - stone paving - flaga

Flit - to move house - flytja

Foss - waterfall - fors

Garth - small grass enclosure next to a house - garor

Gawp - to stare - gapa

Gill, ghyll - ravine - giel

Happen - perhaps - happ

Ings - meadow near water - eng

Keld - spring or well - kelda

Laithe - barn or agricultural building - hlath

Ling - heather - lyng

Mickle - large - mikkel

Moss - marsh - mose

Nay - no - niei

Reckon - to pretend, consider - reikna

Riding - administrative part of Yorkshire - briojunger (third part)

Spell - splinter of wood in skin

Tarn - lake - tjarn

Thoil - to be willing to give, afford, endure, tolerate