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See also Admergill


Blacko Hill

I have seen Blacko Hill described on maps as Black Hill, ‘Black’ may not be as obvious a description of an area as it may seem. Black is a common name where hills and mountains are concerned, also along ancient routes. ‘Blake’ and ‘Blache’ are early derivations of many modern Black place-names. The Anglo-Saxons used these as descriptions for ‘white, shining, pale’, the root of our modern word Bleach. Slav languages use the word ‘Blag’ to mean ‘blessed’ or ‘light given’.

There are numerous instances (nationally) of stones (such as mark-stones) named Black but referred to in the locality as White Stones, this is possibly because of their colour, the origin of the Black name here is obviously not the same as in the modern term.

A sample of place-names beginning with Black are –borough, -pool, - stone, -well, - slade, - ford, -cap, - tor, - heath, - lake, - brook, - burn, - moat , - end, -gate, - broom , - acre, - land, - hole, - way, - ley, - dyke, - hill, - howe, - moss.

Besides high ground Black commonly refers to water (lake, stream, pond etc.) where the ‘shining’ or reflective nature can be seen for many miles. It is a matter of conjecture as to the extent of the survey of ancient landscapes but it is possible that water reflection could have been used to this end.

A significant number of ‘Black’ names regarding high ground refer to ancient ‘Holy’ places.

Blacko is commonly referred to as deriving from Black Howe (Black Hill). There is strong evidence to show that the name originates in Black Hey, shortened to Blakey. From the time that the Norman's began to record local places and landholdings the northern area of Barrowford Booth, or Overbarrowforth, was known as Blakey. The area was owned by the Blakey family of Blakey Hall. Whether or not the Blak name originates within the Old English for white, the hey name can be traced with some confidence. In both Old English and Norse the word has the same base meaning ie., a fence, hedge or boundary. Given that Blacko sits on the Black Dyke, a major ancient boundary between kingdoms and later the Lancashire and Yorkshire boundary, the term Black Boundary is extremely apt.

Blakey Howe on High Blakey Moor in N Yorks at SE678 998 is bronze age round barrow. It resembles Blacko Hill in as much as it has a boundary wall running over its ridge and a large boundary stone on top. Coincidentally Blakey Howe is known locally as Cockpit Hill, this alternative name was also used for the Blacko Hill. In this name we have a combination of Black, Hey and Howe which raises the possibility that Blacko was also Black Hey Howe or Black Boundary Hill.

Blacko, in the medieval and early modern periods, had no nucleated settlement, in other words it was not a village but a scattered collection of farms. This gives weight to the idea that the name of the area originated in a description of the hill and land around it.

There is an old local legend related by a former resident at Tower Farm, that Blacko Hill is connected to Admergill via an underground tunnel. These legends usually denote a strong, ancient link (not necessarily physical) between two sites.

In the nineteenth century at least the hill was known as ‘One Tree Hill’ and this appellation might carry back to a much earlier date. The Admergill side of the hill was heavily quarried during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and this reduced its mass significantly. Whereas Blacko Tower now stands on the apex of the hill its present position would have been on the very southern edge of the hill before quarrying operations.


John A Clayton
Barrowford  2005






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