This is where each Greater Manchester region gets its name from

Every word has an origin, so where does each region of Greater Manchester get its name from?

Bolton

Derived from the Old English word bothl-tun, meaning a settlement with a dwelling.

According to British History Online, there are a few different spellings over the years- Bothelton in 1212, Botelton in 1257 and Boulton in 1288.

It wasn’t until 1307 that it was spelt as we all know it today.

Bolton Town Hall © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Bury

Man the fort! Bury gets its name from the Old English word Buri or Byri, translating to castle or stronghold.

Bury Castle Excavations and the Castle Armoury © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Bury Castle was built in 1469 by Sir Thomas Pilkington and overlooked the River Irwell. The castle would have been one of the grandest buildings in the early town and you can still visit the remains today.

Oldham

This one is full of debate. The name seems to come from Eald (antiquity) and Ham (house or farm).

Oldham above Chaddereton © Matt from Oldham, UK, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

However, it may be a derivative of Aldehulme, which is an Old Norse name (a North Germanic language).

The Cumbric word alt (cliff) has also been suggested as the reasoning behind ‘Old’.

Wigan

Dated all the way back to the 7th century, Wigan is said to mean village or settlement.

Other people believe that Wigan was named after a person called Wigan, or that it refers to Wiggin tree, a plant more commonly known as Mountain Ash. This can be seen in the crest of the Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council coat of arms!

Oeschenbach-coat_of_arms.svg: Aliman5040, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The town has also been historically recorded as Wygayn and Wygan.

Rochdale

At first glance, the region appears to earn its title from its position on the River Roch.

However, an early recorded version of Recedham in the ‘Domesday Book’ (a great survey conducted in 1086 by the order of King William the Conqueror) suggests that it may be derived from the Old English word reced (hall) and ham (homestead).

It was also recorded as Rachedale at one point.

Stockport

Stockport was recorded as Stokeport in 1170. The most widely accepted theory is from Old English, Port (market place) and stoc (a hamlet).

Stockport Market Place cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Gerald England – geograph.org.uk/p/1449268

It may also be a mix of two Saxon words- stock (stockade) meaning castle and port meaning a castle within wood.

Other theories are based on early recordings such as Stopford and Stockford. You may still hear the terms Stopfordians and Old Stoconians in use today.

Tameside

Tameside only became a Greater Manchester metropolitan district in 1974 and deciding on a new name proved problematic.

Ashton-Hyde had been suggested, but double-barrelled names were prohibited for the new districts. Other ideas included Brigantia, Clarendon, Hartshead, Kayborough, Ninetowns, West Pennine, Hartshead and Tame. 

Tameside, referencing the River Tame, got the final vote.

River Tame. Photo © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Trafford

Again, only existing as a borough in 1974, there was more debate.

Both Watlingford and Crossford were on the cards, but ‘Trafford’ represented a lot of past history and links in the area, such as Old Trafford, Trafford Park and the de Trafford family  (ancient land-owners).

City of Salford

Derived from the Old English word Sealhford, meaning a ford by the willow trees which grew along the banks of the River Irwell.

Willow Trees

Salford appears as Sauford in the 1169 Pipe Roll and Sainford in the Lancashire Inquisitions of 1226.

In 1974 when Greater Manchester was first formed, Salford was nearly called Irwell!

City of Manchester

According to Oxford University Press, the name originates from the Latin word Mamucium or Mancunio. 

Manchester City Centre

It may also come from the Brittonic word mamm (breast-like-hill) and ceaster, an Old English word meaning Roman fortification or fortified town.

More recent work suggests that it could come from mamma (mother) in reference to a local river goddess in the River Medlock.

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