Origin of the name
The origin of the name is based on Old Norse sker, Skerton meaning the Tun by the Reefs (i.e. sand banks in the River Lune which ran through the original Township). The history of the Township to 1914 is shown in the Victoria County History.
Neighbouring Lancaster annexed parts of Skerton in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the Township was divided between Lancaster and adjacent parishes. The records, show variants the name over time,'Skerton'(1200),'Skereton'(1292), 'Storton'(1201), and 'Sherton' (1292). Of those evolutions of the original Norse name Skerton is the modern version.
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1066 to 1297
After the Conquest of 1066, which saw the Realm of England seized from Saxon control and placed under the benevolent savagery of William the Conqueror, the town of Lancaster was seized as the personal fiefdom of the Norman King. The historic hill that now plays host to the Castle had previously been the site of a Roman fort and, following the Norman Conquest, was designated as the site upon which to build what is now Lancaster Castle.
The land being carved up by the Norman Aristocracy, the land playing host to 'Schertune' was granted to the Halton fee, of which Earl Tostig, (See Tostig Godwinson), was a member. Tostig, having been loyal to the Norman King was rewarded in this instance with personal possession of Skerton, (Amongst other rewards of land). During his possession, the Skerton was assessed as being 'Six-plough lands'.
After Tostig's possession, Skerton was retained in demesne by the Lords of Lancaster; in 1094, demesne tithes from Skerton were granted to St Martin's at Sees by Count Roger of Poitou, (See Roger the Poitevin). The land surrounding Skerton remained more or less 'Virgo intacta', an exception being made when half a Plough-land was granted to William De Skerton, (Reeve from 1201 to 1202), to be held by this Serjeanty.
It has being revealed that around this time, the ancient assize rent of the vill for ten Oxgangs of land in bondage was seven Shillings and Sixpence, (7s 6d). By 1200, this had increased considerably to forty-two Shillings and nine Pence, (42s 9d), or, more accurately, (£2 2s 9d). It is also recorded that allowance was made for the want of Plough teams between 1200 and 1202, at the rate of six Shillings and eight Pence, (6s 8d), per team.
Skerton contributed to the Tallage between 1205 and 1206, paying thirty-nine Shillings, (39s), or, (£1 19/-). Similar contributions were made in 1226 and by 1240 to 1260, was making a contribution of around £20 per Annum. During 1246-1248, the Lune Mill, (Held by the Lords of Lancaster), the farm at Skerton and other issues of the Manor were, (Over the course of a year and-a-half), of the sum total of thirty-one Pounds, eighteen Shillings and nine-and-a-half Pence, (£31 18s 9.5d). Pleas and perquisites of the court came to sum total of eighteen Shillings, (18s). Due to the possession of the land by the Lords of Lancaster, all proceeds, (and later possession of the land), ultimately came back to the English Crown.
In 1297, it has been recorded that there were three free tenants, (That is to say, those not in bondage to another master but free citizens in their own right.), these being Alan de Paries, the Abbot of Furness and Lawrence, the son of Thomas De Lancaster.
In 1235, the 19th year of the Reign of Henry III, (House of Plantagenet), the Lancaster Royal Grammar School was established. Coincidentally, there has been a school in Skerton since 1734, meaning that Skerton is the second-oldest provider of education in Lancaster. The oldest existing school buildings still in Skerton are those built for the Parish of St. Luke's in 1870, making Skerton the location of the third oldest school in Lancaster. Meanwhile, the buildings that comprise the current secondary school for the area date from 1932, making Skerton Community High School the fourth oldest secondary school in Lancaster. Such is its current ranking.
- Ekwall E,The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names 4th Edition 1960. reprinted 1970, pp. 424, 425.
- For a fully referenced history see the on-line Victoria County History, A History of the County of Lancaster, Vol 8, Eds. William Farrer & J. Brownbill, (1914) pp.98-61
- See W Farrer & J Brownbill op. Cit..
- See Ekwall op. cit..