English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Owston

Historical Forms

  • Scanhalle, Scanhalla 1086 DB
  • Scalehale 1180–95 YCh 1200 DodsN
  • Scal' 1185 BM
  • Scelehal 12 Nost146
  • Skelehall 1203 FF
  • Skelehale 1246 Ass8d
  • Skelhal(e) 12 YDi 1243 FF 1246 1336 FF
  • Skelhall 1371 FF 1473 YDviii
  • Schelhal(l) 1219,1246 FF 1246 Ass38d 1252 FF
  • Skelal(e) 1316 Vill 1328 Banco 1402 FA
  • Skellall 1487 FF
  • Skellawe 1379 PT
  • Skellow(e) 1493 FF 1546 YChant 1641 Rates
  • Skelow 1499 Ipm
  • Scelah 1730 PRCnt


Skellow and Skelbrooke (43infra ) are both near a small stream which is now called The Skell, Skelbrooke doubtless being the original stream-name; Skellow is some two miles downstream from Skelbrooke village on a slope above the Skell stream; Wrangbrook (37infra ) is at the head of the stream and was clearly once the name of the upper part of it. The difficulty of interpretation lies in the early variation between Scale -, Schel - and Skel (e )-; Skelbrooke itself could simply be a compound of OE  scēla 'shieling' (influenced by the cognate ON  skáli) and brōc, 'brook near the shieling or hut', and Skellow could contain Skell , a back-formation from this stream- name and halh 'nook of land'; Skell as an early reduced form of the stream-name Skelbrook would be unusual but not impossible. The first el. of Skelbrooke might also be ON  skjallr 'resounding', as in R. Skell (v. RNs.), but such a description of so small a stream would be somewhat exaggerated; ODan  skial 'boundary' is also formally possible, for though the stream itself forms parish boundaries only at intervals, it is very near the wapentake boundary which goes along the Great North Road; the stream runs into Old Ea Beck along which this boundary continues. On the whole, since there may be difficulties with a derivation of Skelbrooke from skial in a hybrid of an OScand  word with brōc (when we might have expected ON  bekkr 'stream'), we should favour Ekwall's etymology from OE  scēla , with ON  sk - replacing sh - and sometimes with the cognate ON  skáli influencing the earlier forms. As regards the halh in Skellow, the old village stood on an exposed site on a hill some 30 ft. above the level of the stream, but the halh would be the hollow between the hills through which the Skell flows. Skelbrooke would thus mean 'stream by the shieling', and Skellow 'nook of land or hollow near the Skell(brook)'.In Skellow the modern form -ow is due to dial. vocalisation of -l (cf. Phonol. § 6).