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 Bole

Historical Forms

  • Bolun 1086 DB 1212 Fees 1299 FF
  • Bolum t.Hy2 Ch 1316 FF 1202,1258 Pat 1373
  • Bolum super Trentam 1279 FF
  • Bolum Trentham 1302 Ass
  • Bolum Trent 1327 SR
  • North Bolom 1280 Ass
  • Bollum 1316 Ch
  • Bole 1290 MinAcct 1316 FA 1321 Rental 1330 Ass
  • Bole super Trente 1332 SR
  • Boole 1379 Pat
  • Boyl(l)e 1527,1539 LP 1540 FF
  • Booll 1535 VE
  • Bolle 1555 BM
  • Boalle 1638 FF


This place is north in contrast to Bolham infra 59 and it is difficult to avoid associating both names alike with Bolam (Nb), Bolum c. 1155 BM, (Du) Bolom 1316 RPD, and possibly with Boldon (Du), Boldun 1153–95 FPD. In PN NbDu s. nn. these latter names were taken to be of English origin, the first element being the English equivalent of the Westphalian bol , 'smooth, rounded hill,' noted by Jellinghaus (32) and discussed also in Förstemann (ON i, 536). This suits the topography of Bolam (Nb, Du) in broken country amid rounded hills, and of Boldon on the slopes of a well-rounded hill, but it is difficult to see how it could apply to Bole, still more to Bolham.

Ekwall (DEPN) takes all these names alike (except Boldon) back to the dative plural of the word which lies behind bole , 'tree-trunk.'. Such a base is possible, in theory, for Bole and Bolham which may be interpreted as '(at) the tree-trunks,' but it is difficult to take this as the interpretation of the Durham, still more of the Northumberland place-name, as bole is commonly regarded as a Scandinavian loan-word from OScand  bolr , 'tree-trunk.' The use of such a loan-word in co. Durham is possible; but it is very unlikely in Northumberland, and Ekwall suggests that the word may be English rather than Scandinavian and notes MHG  bole , 'plank,' ModGer  bohle . There is, however, no evidence for bole being used in this sense in English and the translation 'at the planks (i.e. plank-bridge)' which he gives for it would not suit the topography of either of the Bolams or of Bolham where there is no stream, though it is perhaps possible for Bole. We must therefore either take all these names as going back to an Anglo-Scandinavian loan-word bole denoting 'tree- trunk' and face the difficulty of its extension into Northumberland, or we must separate the names in Northumberland and Durham from those in Nottinghamshire, taking the former to mean 'at the hills,' and the latter 'at the tree-trunks.'

Places in the same Parish

Other OS name