Starting with B - 93 Glossary entries found.
In this section of the website you can find out more about specialist and technical terms archaeologists sometimes use. There is also lots more information about famous people and historic events in the north-east.
Bail hill; Bail hills; Bale
sometimes called balehill(s), bail hill(s), bale(s) or bayle(s)
A bolehill was a shallow furnace used when smelting Galena. It was a circular pit one or two metres wide, with a sloping base - so molten lead would form, collect and solidify in a pool. Around the edge was a wall with deliberate gaps in to allow the wind to fan the flames. These were often place on hilltops. Crushed Galena was placed on top of wood fuel. The fuel was set alight and as the ore was chemically reduced to lead (Pb) it was collected in the hollow. Bellows could be used to fan the flames.
Remains of bolehills are usually a circular burnt area of ground with bits of fuel and Galena in black soil and pieces of slag piled up on one side. Bolehills were usually used in the Medieval period in the 15th and 16th centuries, until they were replaced by shaft furnaces, which used water-powered bellows.
Baileys were large enclosures around the main tower of a motte and bailey castle. They were defended by a large bank with a palisade or wall and a ditch. If there were a series of baileys these may each be defensive on their own. It need not have been contemporary to the motte in origin. Sometimes a motte could be added to an existing defensive enclosure, while in a bailey could be added to an isolated motte. Sometimes baileys are found without a motte - they are then called ring works.
See Bail hill
Heavy materials, (such as stone, gravel or tiles), carried by ships so as to stable in storms of the past. The ballast may contain artefacts where the ballast was taken on board, e.g. the stone heads at Wallington, Northumberland, came from London. Flint ballast usually came from the east of England.
Barbed and tanged; Barbed and tanged arrowhead
Barbed and tanged is a description of a type of prehistoric flint arrowhead. The tang is a piece at the bottom of the arrowhead which was attached to the arrow. The tangs were projections on either side of the base of the arrowhead. These were designed to stop the arrow coming out of the body into which it had been fired.
A passage to the entrance of a castle that projects forward of the main curtain wall, with walls to either side. This will force an attacking force into a small space and in an intended direction. The attackers can then be attacked from above and the sides. Examples are at Prudhoe and Alnwick castles, (both Northumberland), of the 14th century. They may also include a drawbridge.
A barmkin was a defensive enclosure built around fortified tower houses and bastles. They were large thick walls used to protect cattle and other livestock from raiders. Access to the enclosure as a whole was through bolted gates. They were mainly built in the 16th and 17th centuries. No surviving examples have been found in Northumberland, though we know from written documents that they did exist. The thick walls of a barmkin could be used to build up against.
Relating to a barony. For example a baronial hall is one owned by a barony.
A group of barons and their lands.
The land owned by a baron. This may be given by the King or Queen for service expected or due, such as acting as a knight or acting as a member of the monarch's household. The same person might have been a baron or a lord in the same or different areas. These could also have been bought for money. The Radcliffe family, (see 1715 rebellion) were the barons of Langley, (South Tynedale), and Wark-on-Tyne, (North Tynedale), as well as Earls - because an ancestor had purchased these lands in the 17th century AD. (These lands passed to Greenwich Hospital in 1735AD).
A style of art (including architecture) dating from 1600-1760AD. It is a florid and extravagant style - it was not widely taken up in Britain, as it was widely associated with the Catholic countries of Europe.
A barque is a sailing ship with at least three masts.
Buildings purposefully built to hold soldiers, and occasionally their dependents. Early Roman examples are on Hadrian's Wall at the forts. Only from the 1650sAD was there a full-time standing army that required housing. Barracks were built at Berwick upon Tweed after complaints from local residents who had troops sharing their houses.
These buildings would act as home, school and washhouse as the situation demanded. They might be graded - so that higher-ranking officers and non-commissioned officers would have bigger, or separate, space within the barrack buildings - often called barrack blocks.
Barrel-vaulted; Barrel vault; Barrel vaulted
A curved ceiling formed like a continuous semi-circular arch. Barrel vaults are the simplest kind of vault - but immensely heavy, so may require buttresses on the outside of the building to support them.
Mound(s) mound of earth and/or stone usually constructed to cover burials. The burials may be in any position, and be inhumations, cremations or might be in a cist. There are number of types, such as bell, disc, long, pond and round, based on the profile. Most examples in the northeast are quite plain to somewhere else, such as Wiltshire.
A barrow tip is a mound of earth, slag or similar material made by repeatedly tipping the material from small barrows. It is often possible to tell from which side the barrows were emptied.
Barytes, Barium Sulphate, is an ore of the metal Barium (Ba). It is usually found in veins of Lead (Pb) and Zinc (Zn) ores. It is used in the chemical, paint and paper industries, as well as rubber. In paper-making Barytes is added to improve the paper's finish - levelling it and giving it a gloss, as a slip and filler respectively. It was not mined commercially in the North Pennines orefield till the later 19th century. It can also be found when Barium Chloride brines mix with sulphate waters. This was first noted as a concretion to mine equipment, where it could cause blockages.
A noted architect and pupil of Sir John Soane. He designed the bridge at Bywell in Northumberland in 1838AD. (This bridge also has holds for explosives if there was an attack in World War II - there is an associated pillbox nearby).
Self-contained unit(s) of fortification projecting beyond the main curtain wall of a fortified place. Artillery, such as cannons, would be contained and infantrymen who could fire along the line of the curtain wall, so as to prevent the advance and scaling of the walls by an enemy.
Bastions would cover each other to prevent their direct attack by an enemy. Examples can be seen at Berwick upon Tweed (Northumberland) of the 18th century, though the principles had been developed in the 16th century.
Bastle; Bastle House
A type of structure peculiar in the counties (English and Scottish) that adjoin or are close to The Scottish Border. They are generally situated within 20 miles of The Border. These are defended stone-built farmhouses usually dating from the 16th-17th centuries AD. They are two storied with thick walls, small windows and had internal access to upper living quarters. This was usually through a trapdoor and ladder through the barrel vault roof of the ground floor - though stairs in the thickness of the walls could also be used. (This variant is common in Scottish - and one in Northumberland is noted at Woodhouses, near Holystone). The lower door could be barred and protected against fire by a quenching hole.
The ground floor was used to house animals where they could be protected from theft by the Reivers. The upper floor was for the family. Most were subsequently modified when living conditions were more peaceful following the union of the crowns in 1603AD, and some are still lived in. They were built and lived in by well-off families.
A concentration of armaments, historically just guns, (but since World War II, rockets and missiles), specifically placed so as to defend a locality from an attacking force from the air, (see Anti-aircraft battery), land or sea.
Battle of Flodden
This Battle of Flodden was fought on September 9th1513 between the English and the Scots. King James IV of Scotland invaded England to divert the English army from France where they were fighting his ally Louis XII of France.
The Scottish army had over 30,000 soldiers including early cannons. They were opposed by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, with an army 20,000 strong. Though they were outnumbered, the English were better equipped and by nightfall had won a major victory. Anywhere from 10,000 - 12,000 Scots, including King James IV and many nobles, were killed.
Battle of Hastings
16th October 1066AD. Battle in the south of England for the English crown between the English under Harold Godwinson and the Normans (and allies) under their Duke William the Conqueror. Harold's army was whittled away throughout the day, and at the close Harold was killed. William won the battle and was crowned King on Christmas Day 1066AD.
The Normans consolidated their victory by dispersing lands among those present at the Battle of Hastings often as a barony. This involved building motte and bailey castles and putting down rebellions severely. This led to the Harrying of the North. The scenes of the battle were recorded by several chronicles and by the Bayeux Tapestry.
Generic term for crenallations of timber and/or stone. They were added to buildings to give cover to defenders. Crenallating, the act of building crenallations, required a licence from the Monarch without which a castle was classed as unofficial (as for Nafferton, Northumberland). Loopholes could also be used to drop heavy items onto attackers from battlements. Battlements were frequently added to follies and buildings called a ferme ornee to give a (false) air of age and grandeur.
Buildings are often divided into vertical sections by regularly spaced vertical sections, such as arches, columns or windows. Each section is known as a bay.
Beacons were used to signal long distances before the invention of the telegraph and telephone. They were often placed on hills with good views. In daytime the smoke of a fire would be used to make signal, and at night the light of the fire might be seen. However, it would only be possible to sound the general alarm. They were often organised into complex networks to warn of invasion. They may have been temporary or have had a standing garrison if in continuous use. Since the views did not vary too much through time prehistoric sites might have been re-used as a Medieval or Post-Medieval beacon site, e.g. the Iron Age Ros Castle hillfort owned by National Trust.
Beakers are a distinctive group of pots belonging to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. They are usually found in graves accompanying inhumations. It is unknown what beakers held - various liquids and syrups are suggested. They are often found in graves and cists with other grave goods, including jet buttons and flint arrowheads. Antiquarians used to think that beakers were brought to Britain by a migration of people known as 'The Beaker People'. More recently, others think that the beakers were simply exchanged for other precious objects. Classifications by shape and decoration have been devised for standardised descriptions, e.g. bell beaker shape or All Over Cord decoration (AOC).
Bede is perhaps the best-known Northumbrian saint for his writings. Bede was born on lands belonging to Monkwearmouth (Tyne and Wear) monastery and left by his family at the age of seven. He therefore became monk, priest and deacon of the church - specialising in the study and translation of the many books the monastery had collected from abroad - at Monkwearmouth and the later founded Jarrow (also Tyne and Wear). Bede saw himself first as a commentator on The Bible first, though is best known for his historical writings. He wrote in Latin and Old English.
Bede's historical writings were chronicles of events and specialised biographies, called hagiographies, of religious figures. His major work The Ecclesiastical History of the English Church and People has given Bede the title 'Father of English History'. It deals with British history from Julius Caesar's raids, (see Claudius) to 731AD. Though there are problems of both coverage and detail, this is still a valuable source. Bede used local correspondents for places he could not get to, and used eye-witnesses where he could. Bede relied upon a wide selection of earlier authors. The Ecclesiastical History also has simplified events - though it was primarily a church history, not giving such prominence to political and social events as we might now.
Bede's biographies included two Lives of Saint Cuthbert - in verse (716AD) and narrative (720AD) styles, and the Lives of the Abbots of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow amongst others. A short autobiographical note was included in The Ecclesiastical History'. The Lives of the Abbots' is probably the most accurate - drawing on Bede's first hand knowledge of many of the subjects. Bede was associated with the two monasteries from seven to his death. Other subjects Bede wrote about were chapters in The Bible, Latin grammar, chronologies, on poetry and a list of feast-days (with biographical notes) of Christian martyrs.
Bede died at Jarrow and was originally buried there. However, bones reputed to be his were later moved to The Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral. An antiquarian investigation was made of his tomb in May 1831 by the cathedral staff, including James Raine. Objects were removed and a cast made of a skull, before reburial of the bones. Bede was canonised in 1899 - though he is usually referred to as 'The Venerable Bede'
This is a stone quern shaped like an old-fashioned beehive.
A belfry is a can either be a small turret containing a bell set on a roof (bellcote) or the room or part of a tower in which bells are hung. It is also sometimes used to describe the whole tower in which bells are housed.
A structure on the top of roof that houses a bell or bells, e.g. at Ford and Meldon Churches, Northumberland.
Bellpit; Bell pit
A vertical shaft is dug down into the ground. When it reached the seam or stone to be extracted is reached the miners would start to working outwards along the seam. The materials would be raised by a whim, (like a gin-gang), often in baskets. Eventually, it would become too dangerous to mine further as the risk of collapse was too great. In cross-section these pits would look like a bell. These were mainly used in the Medieval and Post-Medieval periods. From the 18th century lined shafts were used. These have only slight spoil heaps, as they were usually short time sites. Bell pits were still used around Ford around World War I, (Northumberland). The access in and out for the miners was by climbing the side of the shaft or by climbing a metal chain.
A turret designed to provide views. This may be built separate to or on to an existing building. The term may also be used for garden terraces based on false turrets, as William Wailes, (see Wailes, William] built for himself at Saltwell Towers, Low Fell, (Tyne and Wear).
A person who follows the Rules of St. Benedict for monks. These rules governed how a monastery was to operate. Benedictines individually and as monasteries often gained immense wealth and high positions. This was a result of being based in towns, such as Durham. The Cistercian and Premonstratensian groups were set up as a reaction to the wealth of the Benedictine and Cluniac orders.
See Green, Benjamin.
The north Northumbrian Anglo-Saxon kingdom. This was reputed to have been set up at Bamburgh by Ida in 547AD. It was engaged in power struggles with Deira in the south of the region for control of Northumbria - power alternating between the two, and forcing the respective losing royal family into exile. After the settling down of the internal Northumbrian struggles there were power struggles with other areas of Britain, including Mercia and the Picts (of Scotland). A person from Bernicia was called a Bernician.
A mechanism where a shaft rotating in one plane can turn, via wheels with teeth or cogs, a further shaft in an different one, such as at 90°. This would allow waterwheel and threshing machine power to be transmitted elsewhere. These would be used in gin-gangs, windlasses and watermills.
A Cumbrian dialect word for a shelter or animal den, from the Old English belde. Goose bields, found in Cumbria, are designed so geese penned in cannot escape and foxes cannot get in. These are circular shelter with high walls overhanging on the inside (to stop the geese) and outside (so as to stop the foxes).
The word is also used for a general livestock shelter.
John Cosin was Bishop of Durham from 1660-1672. In 1669 he founded the Bishop Cosin Library, a library for local priests and scholars. It is now part of Durham University Library.
Bishop of Durham (1406-1437). He was responsible for rebuilding parts of the cathedral and reorganising the cathedral school.
Bishop of Durham (1770-1859). In 1852 he donated a new cover for the Lindisfarne Gospels.
See Pudsey, Hugh.
Blacksmith; Black smith
A person who works with the iron blooms, (from a bloomery), to make tools and equipment. In such buildings, called a smithy, there will be a hearth for heating and re-heating the metals, anvils for shaping and hammering against, and windows with small moveable panes to increase/decrease the air present.
Smithing will detectable traces for geophysical techniques and excavation. Specialised types of slag will be produced as waste, in addition to the finished items made. White smiths, less common, worked with other metals than iron.
A furnace for smelting ironstone at high temperatures beyond the melting point of Iron, (Fe, 1540°C). These furnaces were used to produce cast iron. The furnace was a tall cavity funnelling out from the base into which layers of ironstone, fuel (either charcoal or coke) and limestone were added. The limestone was used to remove the unwanted components of the ironstone. Coal was not used as a fuel - as it contains Sulphur (S) which made the metal unworkable. The inside of the furnace was lined with fireclay bricks or ganister which could withstand the temperatures.
The cast iron and slag were removed by taking out part of the furnace base. As these were both molten liquids these both ran from the furnace into shaped moulds, (called pigs for the cast iron), from an alcove called a casting arch. The floor where these moulds were is called the casting floor. These smelting operations could last for long periods of time such as weeks; additional fuel and ironstone being added as necessary, from the top, (where the furnace might be cut into slope, or reached from a ramp). At the end of the smelting the lining was removed and replaced as necessary. The temperature was held at high temperatures by bellows blowing the fire - these were often powered by waterwheels.
Blast furnace sites included the stores for the ironstone and fuel. They could also include calcining kilns, workers accommodation, and provision for the water-powered elements - such as reservoirs and leats. Blast furnaces developed from the high bloomery style of furnace. Examples in Northumberland date to the later 16th century, (Wheelbirks, Stocksfield) and the 18th century, (Allensford). Other later examples were built in the region - but little remains to be seen.
Bleachfield; Bleachouse; Bleach house
This is a field where freshly woven un-dyed linen-based cloth, (called 'grey' cloth), was pegged out after being washed in mildly acidic solutions, (such as sour milk) to dry and be bleached by the sun. The word bleaching comes from the Saxon to be pale.
The process of repeated washing, drying and bleaching (which needed large amounts of water) removed the natural colour of the cloth and the impurities that might affect the chemical effectiveness of the dyes to be used. As these 'fields' had a valuable crop they were sometimes guarded by a watch house and with traps. Alter 19th century bleaching powders reduced the long period of bleaching to days.
This is the slag produced by a bloomery
An early form of furnace for smelting ironstone. They are so named because a bloom of varying Iron (Fe) and Steel (Iron and Carbon, C) was produced as the ironstone never reached the melting point of Iron (1540°C). Such a furnace would be a 1.0m high circular clay wall into which ironstone and charcoal were added at the top. A fire would be started at the base, and the fuel and ironstone added. Air would be blown in to fan the fire. A liquid slag could be 'tapped' from the base of the furnace to run, like lave, before solidifying. The Iron bloom was removed by taking away part of the walls.
Bloomeries date from the Iron Age and lasted till near the end of the Medieval period in varying numbers, though some later Post-Medieval examples may have survived for small ad hoc use. An intermediate stage between the bloomery and the blast furnace was the high bloomery. The process was not particularly effective with a ton of Iron to several tons of ironstone and fuel. Some blast furnaces used bloomery slag. Where slag remains this may be the sign of a bloomery.
The term can be used generally for all the iron-smelting site which would have included hearths for roasting ironstone, ironstone and fuel stores, and buildings that covered the furnace and acted as workers accommodation.
Architect who completed Buckingham Palace, London, but also designed cottages for the Earl of Tankerville's estate village of Chillingham, Northumberland in the 1830s.
Bog Ore is a kind of natural iron ore often found in bogs and marshy land.
Place where a metal boiler is housed within a larger complex, such as a colliery to provide steam for a winding engine. These buildings will have a platform, be closely connected with a hearth and fuel store and by pipes to an engine house where the steam can be used.
Boldon Book; Bolden Book
A customal account by the Bishop of Durham taken in 1183AD. Customal accounts listed the labour, money and produce owed by custom to the Bishop. As such, unlike the Domesday Book, the account is not comprehensive. It only covers selected areas, (those of importance to the Bishops of Durham). It therefore includes the area of North Durham, (see Norhamshire) and Bedlingtonshire, but not where other landowners predominated, such as Barnard Castle, Hartlepool, and the Sadberge wapentake.
The dues were assessed at the individual and community level, so individuals (sometimes with occupations listed) and places are mentioned. The customs due could be specified produce, labour or service at special times of the year. It was written in Latin - though an English translation is available.
See Bail hill.
A site where physical features or stage effects were designed to deceive a bombing aircraft's crew away from an intended target. Various types were developed to simulate harbour and shipbuilding works, railway areas and towns by staged effects, though large fires or exposed lights in the blackout, (see World War II), could also be used.
Decoys were used around the northeast to draw bombers away from the industrial and heavily populated areas of Teeside, Tyneside and Wearside especially. These sites would contain the effects, with blockhouses for the protection and operation of the staff. Some sites remain as structures and earthworks - others as earthworks alone.
sometimes called 'Starfish' or 'Q sites'.
A tenant with no land who is owned by the Lord of the Manor for basic agricultural work.
b1787 d1870 An English architect, son of Joseph Bonomi who worked on Lambton Hall. He worked in the Gothic and Neo-Classical styles.
Border Reivers; Border raiding
The term borough originally applies referred to a fortified town. However, the name came to indicate a town governed by a corporation of its citizens and which had special rights, such as permission to have fairs and markets, given to it by charter This gave such borough towns considerable importance and they were eventually allowed their own Members of Parliament (MPs). The first MPs in 1295AD for Northumberland were sent from Bamburgh, Corbridge and Newcastle.
By 1832AD, some Medieval boroughs had been lost to the sea or declined substantially in population. However, despite the loss of importance they continued to send Post-Medieval MPs to London - whilst other newer and often large places developed as part of the Industrial Revolution could not. These boroughs were called 'rotten boroughs'.
A bothy is a small, often temporary, hut sometimes built in upland areas. There occupation might be only in the summer as part of transhumance. They use simple materials such as drystone walls or turf.
A fold were ewes (female sheep) are milked.
A cross that marks a boundary, often of a spiritual authority ending or starting. However, it is possible that secular Lords of the Manor would erect to show their own faith.
A stone which is placed at the edge of a piece of land, e.g. at a change of ownership.
Bouse teams; Bouseteams; Bouse-teams
Stone storage bunkers. Usually used for storing lead or iron ore before it is processed.
The Bowes was designed and purpose-built as a public art gallery by the French architect Jules Pellechet. It opened in 1892. It was created by John and Joseph Bowes.
A pile of rough stones placed in front of a structure, such as pier in the water, that is used to break the force of water waves to prevent erosion.
A site where clays are extracted, crushed (and/or stirred), shaped (by hand or mould), dried and then fired to make bricks. These have their own kilns that may have run continuously for large amounts. Brickworks were often situated near collieries to use fireclays.
A Northumbrian dialect word for bridge, often found in place- or street-names.
Broad rig; Broad rigg
Brown was a landscape gardener in its broadest sense - his work was on the scale of parks. He was born at Kirkharle, Northumberland, the fifth child of six. Little is known of his parents - and indeed his parentage and ancestry has been questioned based on events in his life. He attended a local school till the age of 16 and then worked for the wealthy Lord of the Manor Sir William Lorraine as a gardener. From there he worked at the famous Stowe, Buckinghamshire, gardens in the south of England. Brown became a gardener and architect for many famous gardens and wealthy clients. His style of architecture was Palladian, such as Croome Court, Worcestershire, for the 6th Earl of Coventry. Such architectural at Croome also involved the creation of a grotto. He chose not to use red bricks in his buildings - comparing them to measles or a fever.
It is for his gardening that his is best known. His style included lakes and winding rivers (often newly constructed for the purpose), tree clumps of different species to add year round interest, undulating lawns and screening areas by trees. A commentator on his work at Blenheim Palace, (see Vanbrugh, John), wrote every change of a few paces furnishes a new scene. He worked with the architect James Paine at Chatsworth, Derbyshire - though he received brickbats and praise for his work throughout Britain - some found the expanse of green repetitive. This included Northumberland - for the Wallington estate he designed the Rothley Lakes, (fine newly made lakes'surrounded by young plantations, which is noble water according to Arthur Young in 1770), and at Alnwick. Brown was appointed a Royal Gardener in 1762AD.
Brown was also interested in preserving features of interest in the landscape - though this did not apply to former gardens. At Roche Abbey, Yorkshire, he preserved the central portion of a Cistercian monastery that had been founded from Newminister, Northumberland. However, only the central portion was preserved as part of the gardens - the rest was covered up. When Brown died in London 1783AD opinion was divided to his work; Horace Walpole wrote Lady Nature's second husband is dead!, whilst King George III is said to have said to a gardener Brown is dead! Now Millicent you and I can do here what we please!. He was nicknamed 'Capability' Brown because he saw the 'capabilities' of the land for improvement.
See washing floors.
Building platforms are areas of ground raised or deliberately made to make a level surface for building. These may be made out of the earth dug out in the construction of a scooped settlement or where wattle-and-daub fences have been placed in soft ground - the spaces then being filled with compact rubble or ballast. Circular house platforms may indicate that the house belonged to the prehistoric or Romano-British period, from the Bronze Age onwards. Rectangular house platforms are more likely to be Medieval in date in the uplands. These may be built in isolation - or curt into a slope which provided the material for the lower section. Sometimes vast areas could be made up as building platforms, most of Newcastle's quayside area is based upon Medieval and Post-Medieval building platforms.
See Building platform.
An earthwork or defensive wall.
See Burgage plots.
These are long, narrow strips of land running at right angles to the main streets in medieval towns. They had narrow fronts and long thin courtyards and connecting alleyways at the back. The houses or shops would usually be at the front facing onto the street. Behind them would be workshops and yards. The traces of burgage plots can often still be seen in towns that were laid out in medieval times (1066 to 1540).
See Burial mound.
A stone-lined grave.
This is a small chisel-like worked flint tool.
A pile of burnt stones that have been cracked by fire and usually sited near running or open water. They are thought to be places where heated stones were used to boil water for cooking and date to the Bronze Age.
Supporters to the side of a building to distribute the weight evenly. The building is therefore said to be buttressed. Flying buttresses make use of an arch before going to the ground.
Butts are small stone structures without roofs used when shooting grouse. The shooters would stand in the butts whilst beaters would drive the grouse into the sky. Grouse shooting became most popular in the 19th century and many upland areas were given over to shooting.
A local term for a barn, usually for cattle. Sometimes these have original stalling divisions to separate the individual animals.