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The date in the first column is obviously approximate only; but I venture to think is never fifty years out, and a closer approximation is immaterial.
With regard to abbreviations, Guis. Cart. stands for Guisborough Cartulary, Whit. Cart. that of Whitby, Riev. Cart. that of Rievaulx, all published by the Surtees Society, whose other volumes are referred to as S.S. N.R. Records are the first series of the North Riding Records. The others speak for themselves.
The collocation of these names in order of date leads one to the view that the earliest form was Othensberg (O.N.,
( Odin). The omission of the genitive termination seems to have been so general at all times in Yorkshire that Othenberg is practically contemporaneous. Hensberg, which Canon Atkinson gives as the form in the Guisborough foundation charter, is not found in Mr. William Brown's edition of the Guisborough Cartulary, and is probably due to the learned Canon having followed Dugdale's misreading in his Mon. Angl.?, without referring to the original. Theuerberght, the form that appears in Kirkby's Inquest, is clearly corrupt; it was, no doubt, copied from rough notes taken at the time, and if we assume that an initial o had been made so small (not uncommon at that period) as to be lost in the termination of the preceding word, and that a long s had been mistaken for a long r, as there are very few words where we can distinguish u and n, we eventually get Othenesberght, or only a supernumerary t.
The alternative form, Onesberg (Guis. Cart., i, 168), in the year 1231 does seem a little premature, probably the compiler of the Cartulary having first correctly copied the form in the Charter (Utheneberg), when the word occurred a second time put the form then coming into use. If so, the Cartulary would be written in the fourteenth and not the thirteenth century.
Apart from these difficulties, there seems to be a fairly uniform list of practically similar names up to the end of the thirteenth century. The vowel sounds are not absolutely identical, but they do not vary, with one exception, from o, ou, and u. The one exception, in 1288, is Hoyphensberg, and in addition to the unusual diphthong sound, we see that the th has changed into ph.
In the fourteenth century we appear to have three perfectly distinct lines of development.
I Vol. vi, p. 267.
First, the local form. The th has changed into ph, thence into v, which is indistinguishable from u; so we get Othensberg, Ophensberg, Ovensberg, Ouensberg, Ounsberg, with occasional returns to the long vowel o, as in Onesberg.
Where we get ou to the north of the Cleveland Hills, we often find au to the south. Dowson is the usual Cleveland and Bilsdale form of the name, which elsewhere is Dawson ; again, Broughton is pronounced Browton to the north, Brawton to the south.
It would not, therefore, be surprising if we should find Ounberg transformed by the monks of Rievaulx into Aunberg, and thence Aumberg, the diphthong au being more labial than ou, and therefore assisting, rather than preventing, the transition of n into m before b. The actual written form is Auhmberghe, and in later times about Thirsk, Malton, and Helmsley (see North Riding Records), the same word occurs under the forms Ormesbrough, Ormesburghe, Ormsburie, and Oram, probably a contraction for Oramburgh.
But there is a third form, and it is one that I venture to suggest was that of the Normans. To them th was always a stumbling block; in an early Pipe Roll the township of Lythe appears as Liz Comitis ;1 it is not a very violent presumption to suggest that Othenberg had gone through a similar transformation, and was known to the Norman portion of the population as Osenbergh.
A double form of the same name, the one used by the better educated and the other by the worse educated class, is certainly not uncommon. Stokesley and Stowsley, Roxby and Rowsby, are two pairs of instances that are found in the immediate neighbourhood.
The earliest form of Osenbergh that I have been able to find is in a Fine of 1340 ; but it is not improbable that further search may be more successful. No less than four several instances occur from 1340 to 1424, and they are confined to Fines and Lay Subsidies. Where a local jury have to give their verdict, the name of Ounesbergh is used. The Patent Roll of 3 Henry VI (see p. 48) affords a good example. The the name used, once certainly, and apparently on both occasions, is Ounsbergh.
occurs four times : twice in the recital of a fine, when Osenbergh is used; twice in the recital of an inquisition, and
1 And see 28 Hen. II, rot. 4, m. 1 (Pipe Roll Series, vol. xxxi, p. 37). vicecomes reddit comp. de xxij i et xjs de
exitu de Liz et de Eggeton quas Comes de Albemar' tenuit."
During the next century Newton-in-Cleveland comes into fashion, and I find no reference to Rosebury till it is mentioned in the list of beacons at the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, or beginning of that of King James I, as Oseburye Toppinge ; the n of an unaccented syllable having dropped out.
From Osebury to Rosebury is not a far cry, especially when we remember that it usually followed the word “under”; Newton-under-Osebury and Newton-under-Rosebury are practically indistinguishable.
Whether the first instance of the form Roseberry occurs in the 5th edition of Camden's Britannia (it does not occur in the four earlier editions), or in the very interesting account of Guisborough preserved in the British Museum as Cott. Julius, F. vi, at fol. 431, depends upon the date which we assign to the latter. Graves, in his History of Cleveland, fixed it as 1550, or thereabouts; and Canon Atkinson gave the preference to 1640. There are difficulties to be faced, because certain of the indicia of age appear absolutely contradictory. The kinsman of Sir Thos. Chaloner interested in the Island of Lambaye, and mentioned in the MS., can surely be none other than John Chaloner, Secretary of State for Ireland, who died in 1584, and, if so, the Sir Thomas Chaloner, to whom the account was addressed must have been the original purchaser, who died in 1566. On the other hand, the mention in the account of Doctors Lea and Muffet, both of whom died in 1604, would seem to point to a date either shortly before or shortly after their death when their reputations were established, but had not yet been forgotten.
I assume the date as 1610, but it is not very material whether the date is accurate to a few years.
There seems to me, therefore, sufficient evidence to show that the hill was originally known as the hill of Odin, whether because the clouds which so continually rested upon it seemed to make it a fitting abode for the greatest of the gods, or because it reminded the early settlers of some hill in their old country, where possibly sacrifices were offered to the god.
There are many old customs connected with Roseberry, but in none can I trace any resemblance to the Cult of Othinn (see that work by Mr. H. M. Chadwick).
1 The word in one place is difficult 10 2 Possibly his son. decipher.
Thus from the old name, Othenesbergh, we get a Norman Osenbergh, Osebury, and eventually Roseberry, while the two local forms, one in Cleveland, Ounesbergh, and the other more widely extended in Yorkshire, Aumbergh or Ormsburgh, have alike died out.
Just as Roseberry stands out to the west of the Guisborough plateau, so is the east side flanked by a smaller hill of like shape, Freebrough, and though the usual derivation of this name leads one to the consideration of frithborh,2 and other institutions that have no connection with our subject, it does not seem absolutely impossible that the hill may have really derived its name from Frigg, the wife of Odin.
It would be interesting to know whether there are any, and, if so, what place-names in Scandinavian countries that are derived from these two deities.
Othensberg, now Onsberg, in the Danish Island of Samsöe, and Odensberg in Schonen, are given by Canon Atkinson on the authority of Grimm. There is also Osenbergh, in Spalten, where the Viking ship was recently found; but whether the name has any connection with Odin must be left to Norse scholars to decide. All that I have attempted to show is that the various names by which Roseberry has been known are all directly derived from one form. From Othenesbergh we got in the Cleveland district Ounsberry; in the Vale of Mowbray, Ahmberg; and amongst the most cultivated classes, Oseberry. Whilst the two former have in course of time become obsolete, the latter has stolen an unnecessary R, and has now developed into Roseberry
This is the suggestion that I venture to submit; even if it does not find universal acceptance, I trust that the references that follow will assist towards the true solution of the problem. In any case, the Protean shapes that the name has at times assumed should afford a salutary warning to those who from an analysis of a twentieth century name alone believe that they can conjecture its original meaning and the history of its various modifications.
1 Cl. Dan. Onsday for Wednesday. 2 Atkinson's Cleveland, i, 78, 79.
3 See Gustafson, Norges Oldtid.