1) A number of minor place-names have ‘hole’ as a first element, especially those which describe ditches and water-courses.

Holbeck, for example, occurs several times in the West Riding, not all of them with early dates. Canon Atkinson said of Houle Becke, recorded in 1664, that it was ‘a local name of frequent occurrence in North Yorkshire’. There is some evidence to suggest that ‘hole’ retained this meaning as a vocabulary item as late as the seventeenth century: 1423 ‘as far as the excavated ditch ditch called a Holghdyke on the east’, York

1695 there is A Bridge over a deep Houll ditch ... called Houll Becke Bridge, Knaresborough. The part of the Colne Valley where the surname Hoyle originated was occasionally referred to as the ‘hole’ and Marsden is known locally as the rain ‘oil. Hoyle House is a frequent minor place-name in the Pennines.

dates 1423 1664 1695

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2) As a verb this word was used in coal-mining when holes were cut through from one board to another or through pillars of coal in order to help air circulate.

1716 post holeing 2 yds, Farnley. One entry implies that the word might also mean to bore: 1719 Titus to Hoale Wimbles 4d, Farnley. The verbal noun was used in one case when a gallery was being driven from the bottom of the shaft: 1574 when they dryve owte of the eye, being called the hoylings, Sheffield. The verb may also have referred to the practice of undercutting the coal so that it collapsed: a coroner’s report in 1753 noted that George Pashlay was holeing some Coal when a large quantity suddainly fell down and laid heavy upon his breast, which was the cause of his death, Sheffield.

dates 1574 1716 1719 1753

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0