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.

Ainsty Cliff

Early-attested site in the Parish of Bilbrough

Historical Forms

  • Aynesty 1255 YI
  • Eynesty 1276 RH


Ainsty Cliff, Aynesty 1255 YI, Eynesty 1276 RH. The 1255 reference is to an inquisition concerning the diversion of a road from Bilbrough to Steeton, which was to be 'turned into the old street [the Roman road] which extends from the south of Catterton Wood between Steeton Moor and Catterton Moor towards Ainsty'; this implies that Ainsty was near a point where a road from Steeton to Bilbrough joined the main York-Tadcaster road. The 1276 RH reference mentions that William de Stotemay made an enclosure obstructing a certain place called Ainsty to the bounds of Copmanthorpe. Ainsty was therefore a small narrow lane leading from Steeton Farm over Ainsty Cliff (1″ O.S. 97–528460) on into Bilbrough; a tumulus stands between Ainsty Cliff and Bilbrough. This was the place from which Ainsty Wapentake was named (216 supra ).The name is a Scandinavianised form of OE  ān-stiga 'narrow path' (ON  einstigi 'path wide enough for one man').