Blennerhasset and Torpenhow

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Building at Torpenhow, formerly the Sun Inn

Blennerhasset and Torpenhow is a civil parish in the Allerdale district of Cumbria, England. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 437, reducing to 423 at the 2011 Census.[1] It includes the villages of Blennerhasset grid reference NY178415 and Torpenhow at NY202397 and the smaller settlement of Kirkland Guards at NY187401.

The local pronunciation of Torpenhow is /trəˈpɛnə/, which causes consternation to those living outside West Cumbria, who would use the more intuitive pronunciation /ˈtɔːrpənh/. Blennerhasset is pronounced blen-RAY-sit rather than the more intuitive BLE-ner-has-set.

A Roman fort[2] is situated on the old Roman Road between Old Carlisle grid reference NY263466 and Papcastle grid reference NY109314


'Blennerhasset' derives from the Old Norse 'heysætr', 'hay shieling', which has been added to a British place-name containing 'blaen', 'top'. The '-er-' part in the middle " is best explained by Ekwall [3] on the supposition that the full first element corresponded to Welsh 'blaen-dre', 'hill farm' ".[4]

Torpenhow was etymologized as "Tosti's howe" (with howe reflecting Old Norse haugr "hill, mound") in The place-names of Cumberland (1950),[5] against a tradition identifying the name as an example of tautology in placenames, first proposed by Denton (1688).[6] Denton interpreted tor, pen and how as three elements all with the base meaning "hill".[7] The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Placenames (4th ed. 1960) accepted Denton's torr+pen+howe etymology (against the 1950s "Tosti" proposal), but notes that torr+penn is not tautological, but expresses the idea of "top or breast of the hill", to which howe was added in a (single) tautology.[8]

The local pronunciation of Torpenhow Village is /trəˈpɛnə/, though the more intuitive pronunciation /ˈtɔːrpənh/ is also used.[9]

Blennerhasset Mill[edit]

Blennerhasset Mill (at grid reference NY419185) is on the south bank of the River Ellen. Plans are in hand to re-establish the mill and make it energy neutral by having it produce its own energy from a rebuilt water wheel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Roman Britain Archived 2007-07-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1922). The place-names of Lancashire. Manchester: Chetham Society. 
  4. ^ Armstrong, A. M.; Mawer, A.; Stenton, F. M.; Dickens, B. (1950). The place-names of Cumberland. English Place-Name Society, vol.xxi. part 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 265–66. 
  5. ^ Armstrong, 1950, p.266
  6. ^ Thomas Denton: A Perambulation of Cumberland, 1687-8, including descriptions of Westmorland, the Isle of Man and Ireland
  7. ^ Denton apprarently exaggerated the example to a "Torpenhow Hill", which would quadruple the "hill" element, but the existence of a toponym "Torpenhow Hill" is not substantiated. Francis, Darryl (2003). "The Debunking of Torpenhow Hill". Word Ways. 36 (1): 6–8. 
  8. ^ the same etymology is also accepted y David Mills, 2011, A Dictionary of British Place-Names.
  9. ^ Francis, Darryl (2003). "The Debunking of Torpenhow Hill". Word Ways. 36 (1): 6–8. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°45′15″N 3°15′34″W / 54.754247°N 3.259313°W / 54.754247; -3.259313