Every suburb name in Sunderland has a long lasting history, with most dating back to the early middle ages. Whilst some names are fairly obvious, such as “Monkwearmouth”, “Bishopwearmouth” or “Town End Farm”- most have meanings that whilst once straightforward, have been forgotten through the evolution of the English language using words and terms no longer in use today. Here, using “The Place Names of Northumberland and Durham” authored by Allen Mawer, we dive deep into what each suburb derives its name from. It is a comprehensive but not an exhaustive list.
Barnes: Middle English, 15th century, “The Barns of the Manor of Hameldon”
Farringdon: The Hill of Faer or his sons. From Old English “Don” meaning hill.
Fulwell: “Foul or dirty ford”
Gilley Law: Ghyl is norse for valley or revine. Law is another Old English term for “Hill”.
Grindon: The Green Hill
Hendon: Valley of the Monks. Another interpretation is “the deer valley”.
Herrington: “Hering’s Farm”-
Humbledon: “Rounded Hill”, also historically known as “Hamledon“
Hylton: “Hill Farm”.
Lambton: “Lamb’s clearing farm”
Pallion: Derived from French, “Pavillion”.
Pennywell: From Cumbric “Pen” meaning hill, and well or spring.
Penshaw: As per Pennywell, Pen also refers to a hill. Historically spelt “Pencher”
Roker: Name origin unknown
Ryhope: Old English, “The Rough Valley”
Seaburn: Burn as in “stream” by the sea.
Silksworth: Old English, “the worth or enclosure of Sigelac”
Southwick: Norse, “clearing by a marsh”. Also referred to as “Suddick”.
Thorney Close: Old English “Thorn” meaning thorns or bushes, “close” was added from the 16th century onwards
Warden Law: “The Watch Hill”