Aysgarth Force!

Volunteer archivist Ian Gregory discovers another contemplative image in the glass plate negative collection:

We have amongst our many slides at Buxton Museum, an image of a low waterfall in a wooded setting. Below the falls, water gushes over flat-stoned rocks as the river opens out. This is Aysgarth Force on North Yorkshire’s River Ure.


The name Aysgarth means “the open space in the oak trees”. It doesn’t come from the English language but from Old Norse, the language of the Vikings.

During the 9th and 10th centuries, Viking armies ruled large areas of England. Today, there are few remains of their culture above ground, what survives has been excavated from mud and earth. When it comes to place names, it’s another story, northern England is full of names derived from Old Norse. The Force in Aysgarth means waterfall in that language, while other Norse place names include thwaite (clearing), thorpe (village or farm), toft (site of house or farm), fell (hill) and beck (stream).

Beeston Tor brooch, Manifold Valley, Derbyshire 875CE on display at BMAG kindly lent by the Trustees of the British Museum


The county I live and work in bears a Viking name; Derby means “deer village” in their ancient tongue. Danish warriors conquered this area in the 9th century but in the 10th century, their leaders were defeated by Anglo-Saxons. The latter were commanded by Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great. Although the Viking army had been defeated, Danish civilians were allowed to remain. Their descendants intermarried with Anglo-Saxons and gradually became one people.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.