1) It had two closely related meanings, referring firstly to a rough path in hilly landscape and secondly to a pasture ground used by sheep and cattle.
The dual meaning seems likely to have developed as access to hill-pasture along such tracks became customary: 1564 in and about the sheppe Raikes or paithes, Rawdon
1598 had stint and rake of goodes [livestock] in Fountans Fell in the Abbey tyme and since
1688 a rent for a catlerake over Raskelfe Common. From the Tudor period the use of ‘rake’ as a pasture was well established: 1520 binds himself ... to keep a wether flock ... on such raykkes and grounds, Darnbrook
1664 all that flockraike or sheep pastures, Hanlith. Almost inevitably the word became a common element in minor place-names: 1495-6 ‘from which a payment of 26s 8d to Lord Scropp is mad ann. for le Cowrake’, Pott
1536 to pay an out-rent ... of 26s 8d for a cow pasture now named the Cowe Rake, Pott. In fact, Cow Rake became quite a frequent place-name: 1641 present ... a Slingsby yeoman for an assault ... at a place called le Cow Raikes. Two additional examples are Cow Rakes Lane in Whiston and Cowrakes in Lindley near Huddersfield. The use of ‘rake’ as a verb with the meaning ‘to pasture’, especially to pasture illegally, is recorded from the seventeenth century: 1617 ‘the cattle might rake over into the disputed ground but they were not herded there’, Oakworth
1661 and lette his sheepe rake over all theire oats sowne on this south-side of the sayd heads, Cottam. It was used also when permission was granted for red deer to feed on moorland in Swaledale: 1653 quietly to leap, rake, depasture and lodge on the premises, Healaugh. The offence of permitting animals to stray onto land sown with oats, as in Cottam above, is evidence that ‘rake’ was not confined to upland areas but could also be used of pasturing or pasture rights on lowland farms: c.1624 a sheep rake in Cottam Field for eighteen score sheep Ł6, Elmswell. Of course, this right could be exercised only after the harvest had been taken in, and there is similar evidence in a sequence of deeds for Hanlith in Malhamdale: 1662-76 winter stint or raike ... the edige and winter raike within the open fields of Hanleith ... herbage and feeding for the said beasts to raike, feed and depasture . None of the above evidence touches on the earliest use of the word in Yorkshire, and for that the only information we have is in by-names and place-names. In the accounts of Bolton Priory, for example, are entries which make it clear that as early as the fourteenth century ‘rake’ was used not of a path but of a territory, probably one used as pasture: 1311 Pro assartacione in le Rakes vjs
1314 Pro fossura apud le Rakes iiijs jd. This is likely to have been an area of waste or common in Halton East for le Rak’ featured there in a priory rental of 1538. Even earlier is a by-name in the Calder Valley, also in the plural: 1275 Adam del Holirakes
1376 Johannes de Holinrake.