1) ‘Wath’ is a word of Scandinavian origin which means ‘ford’, and it is especially common as a place-name element in Yorkshire and Cumbria.

As a suffix it came under the influence of similar sounding words and there has been confusion with -thwaite, -way, -with and -worth in particular. It occurs for example in Helwith Bridge and Solway Firth. Beggars Wife Bridge in Giggleswick was originally Beggerwathe. The bridge of Brygwath is mentioned several times in accounts for Bolton Priory from 1310 but the name did not survive and the site is not known. The word remained in use in the northern dialects: 1486 ‘to le Wath above the mill pond’, Thornton

1655 the wearing [weirding] of the wath, Kirkby Moorside

1697 From thence I went over a wath which tradition says was formerly a great river running ... into Humber. It alternated with ‘wath-stead’, the site of a wath, and both are used in references to work on the bridge at Skipton on Swale. In 1604, money was advanced for the making of a passable foard, or wath-stead, for cart and carriage but heavy traffic continued over the bridge and it had again become ruinous by 1610. As a result it was decided to improve the foard or wath and deny heavy carriages access to the bridge, for which purpose A locke and chaine was provided. Carriers with offensive burthens would therefore be obliged to use the ford.

spellings wath-stead
dates 1310 1486 1604 1610 1655 1697

Related Content Loading...

Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0