Friday, November 09, 2007
Little Known Words From Our Pagan Past… Part 2
This time we'd like to tell you about the new words that came about when the Anglo-Saxon invaders divided England up into Counties.
In the process, the 'Weald' became part of three different counties (known in later Saxon times as the 'Holme Counties').
'Kent' was 'Over-the-Hills' to the North and East', with 'Sussex' 'Over-the-Hills' to the South and West and 'Surrey' over in the North West. The actual weald, (already half denuded of its trees) had taken on a rural garden aspect, and became known as 'Holmesdale'.
The hills that form the northern and southern boundaries of the modern Weald are in fact known as the North and South 'Downs'. Their tops or crests are called 'headlands'; their slopes are called 'hills' and the valleys between them are referred to as 'bottoms'. These names sound quite sensible, but where the name 'Downs' came from, there's no oficial answer.
Maybe it is some sort of 'English' joke?
In those days, the people living in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, considered themselves rather sophisticated. That is, apart from the 'Wild Folk' who still lived rough, deep within the forests of Holmesdale.
The remnants of the ancient forest were often referred to as the 'Wild' and their inhabitants as 'Wildmen', Wealdenmen', 'Wildershers' or 'Willocks'.
One of the tribes, the extremely hairy ‘Woodwoses’, are remembered as the ‘Hairy-foot Hobbits’ in Tolkin’s books.
The rest of England was referred to as 'The Shires' and their inhabitants were looked down on as foreigners or 'furriners'.
In fact anybody who wasn't born, on the Chalk, in this rather elite, south-east corner of England was considered a foreigner, for at least the first twenty-five years of his or her residency.
If they spoke any other language, than Anglo-Saxon or Old English, they were called 'Frenchies' irrespective of what country they came from.
Incidentally, the Romeo British and Celtic people who were forced to live in the mountain fastnesses of Wales, as a result of the Anglo-Saxon Invasion; were now referred to a 'Welsh' which means 'Foreigner' in the old tongue of these isles.
Likewise, the 'Walnut' is the Foreign Nut because it was first introduced to England by our Roman Invaders.
The famous British author, Mr J.R.R.Tolkien, (another person with a BackBrain full of memories like us), as woven a lot of his folk memories into his stories about Middle Earth.
Including 'The Shires' and 'Silver Haired Elves' like us.
For further information on Tolkien's stories, just click on this link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirecthome/practichelpforgo
then put his name in the search box and click 'Go!'