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 Hovingham

Historical Forms

  • Erghum 1138 Dugdv.350
  • Ergum 1218 FF 1236 Cl


'(At) the shielings' v. erg . The word is derived ultimately from OIr  airgh 'a place for summer pastures in the mountains,' and as Airyholme stands on the top of a hill overlooking Wath Beck in the hilly district south of Hovingham, it seems probable that the meaning of the name is 'summer pastures.' The phonology of this word is of interest; the MIr  form was airge but this does not indicate a diphthong; medial -i - is here used to indicate the palatal quality of OIr a , whilst gh represents a spirant consonant aspirated from original stopped g between vowels. The pronunciation, therefore, of OIr  airgh would be [ǣrǥ]. This would normally develop into [erj (əm)] in Yorkshire.

Places in the same Parish