Pen is a Celtic word for ‘hill’ or ‘peak’.  The story goes that when the Anglo-Saxons invaded and began to settle in the north, they asked the local Britons what their hill was called and they were told ‘Pen’ – i.e. “it’s just a hill!” The incomers nodded and said, “Apparently, that’s Pen Hyll”, (adding hyll, the Old English for …well, hill).

Over the following centuries, the words evolved and merged into ‘Pend-hyll’ – which was fine – and then from Pendill to Pendle, until the modern era, when its original meaning had become sufficiently blurred for the suffix ‘hill’ to be added once more! Today, Pendle Hill, a venue for ghosts hunts, is famed as the home of the so-called Pendle Witches who were executed in Lancaster in 1612, but I always think of its wonderful triple name which simply means ‘Hill-Hill Hill’.

There must be many more topographical place-names or geographical features with this kind of repeated etymology, so if you know any in common usage, please let me know…

Pendle Hill from Downham

Pendle Hill from Downham

One Response to …How Pendle Hill In Lancashire Got Its Name…

  1. Ghost Hunter says:

    Click on the old sepia postcard image above for link to inntravel. Lancashire witches abounded but no ghosts hunts in those days!!!

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