As you know I am am a great champion of Britain’s ancient trackways. They are as important as our other antiquities and the telling of our history as our old castles, stone circles and henge monuments. Sad to see then that another ancient trackway is under threat. Please read this account by Annie Whitehead of the threat to Grimeshaw Lane and lend your support. Reblogged from Annie’s blog at http://anniewhitehead2.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-fight-for-grimeshaw-lane.html
It is fair to say that, at the moment, the outskirts of Lancaster do not look very pretty. The hillsides have fresh scars slashed across them as construction work continues on the M6-Heysham link road.But, just a very short distance from there, I met a friend, who took me along one of her favourite walks.
Sometimes, history is not visible. Castles, stately homes, archaeological remains – all give us a link to the past which we can see, and hope to understand. At other times, we can only get a sense of what has gone before, and interpret as best we can what is left in our modern world. This makes such places much harder to protect, but it is no less important that we attempt to do so.
A determined group of people just outside Lancaster are trying, at the moment, to do just that, and to save Grimeshaw Lane and Denny Beck Lane from development. The future of Denny Beck Lane, is I suspect, more secure, given that it was victim to atrocious flooding last winter. But what of Grimeshaw? And how can we assess its historical significance?
I began by trying to decipher the name itself:
Shaw (sceaga) – copse, small wood
So Grimeshaw = Devil’s wood?
This seemed a bit simplistic, so I delved deeper.Margaret Gelling, in her book Signposts to the Past, says: “It has been established that Grim meaning the masked one is a nickname for Woden, alluding to the god’s habit of going about in disguise; and the numerous earthworks called Grims Ditch, Grimsdyke, in many parts of the country are believed to contain this nickname, either because they were believed to be the work of the god, or as a vague expression of superstitious awe concerning their origin.
The use of disguise by Woden is inferred from the many instances in which the corresponding Old Norse god Othin behaved in this way. We do not have narratives concerning the Old English gods of the sort which have survived for the ON deities, and there are many dangers in transferring ON information of a much later date to our own relatively brief pagan period. But a major characteristic like this one seems likely to belong to both traditions.
Not all English place names in Grims- are of this origin. Grimr was a common ON personal name and in the areas of England where Danes and Norwegians settled in the 9th and 10th centuries there are such names as Grimsby, Grimethorpe and Grimscoat, which contain this personal name and are of no special archaeological significance. Even in the Danelaw, however, a Grims- name referring to an earthwork is likely to allude to the god.”
A quick internet search told me (grimshaworigin.org) that “The Grimshaw surname originated in Lancashire in the northern part of England, apparently around 1000 A.D. There appear to be few records of Grimshaw family lines for the first 200 to 250 years. However, it is highly probable that the family’s roots are connected to the town of Grimsargh, which is a short distance northeast of Preston. The earliest recorded Grimshaw was Gilbert, father of William Grimshaw, who held the Manor of Grimsargh in thenage in 1242.”
I looked for more information on the placename Grimsargh but could only find this, in Wikipedia: “The name Grimsargh is said to derive from an Old Norse name Grímr. One reference lists it as coming from the Domesday Book’s Grimesarge, “at the temple of Grímr (a name for Odin.)” I had come full circle.
The plan and information on the process so far can be found Here