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 Cleator

Historical Forms

  • Cletertha c.1185 StB
  • Cletern(e), Kletern(e) c.1220 StB 1241 Pipe 1322 Cl
  • Cleterhe c.1225 Furness 1201–30 DuLa
  • Cletergh c.1260 StB 1338 Cl
  • Cleterh' 1291 CW(OS)i
  • Cleter(e) c.1250 StB 1279 Ass 1291 Tax
  • in Copland 1478 Lowther
  • Cleterwe 1279 Ass
  • Cleterue 1301 GDR
  • Cletter early14th StMaryY 1490 Ipm 1542 MinAcct 1594 NCW
  • Cleeter 1503 Norfolk
  • Cleyter 1567 FF
  • Cleator 1579 ib
  • Clotter 1526 Norfolk
  • Clotter al. Cleter 1538 ib
  • Cleytor 1569 FF


The forms imply that this name is a compound of ON  klettr, 'rock, cliff,' and erg, 'shieling' (cf. DEPN). This interpretation suits the site. CaineCl x observes: “It might be said that this interpretation— 'the outlying pasture among the rocks'—in no way answers to the configuration of the district. But I am not sure that this is so. Towering above the cultivated lands there was a majestic outcrop of limestone now known as 'Clints.'…This hill is now a series of 'cliffs.' But this is not all. The limestone also asserted itself in large outcrops at Jacktrees, Todholes, notably at Aldby, and other places. After this is stated, there are still the outcropping 'slates' of Dent, and other rocks, left unnoticed. The derivation of the word Cleator from klettar is consistent, therefore, with the physical aspects of the place.” That the forms in -erne are clearly errors of transcription for -erue is shown by the 13th-century form in -erwe , which is a regular development of -erg (e ).