WAS Fartown the original Huddersfield?
Place-names expert George Redmonds of Lepton thinks the notion is worth considering.
His reasoning, in a recent Huddersfield Local History Society journal article, is as follows:
‘Town’ is descended from the Old English and Old Norse ‘tun’ which signified a pre-Conquest farmstead or cluster of homes.
Our nearest modern word to ‘tun’ is ‘village’. Any ‘village’ that was founded earlier than 1066 must have been founded before the place we call Huddersfield today – say, for convenience, the area of land within the ring road.
If anything archaeological exists for the original Fartown, it will be found beneath land near the beck that runs down the Grimescar Valley and joins the Colne – via culverts – near the stadium.
This stream almost certainly gave rise to the Huddersfield surname Brook.
Brooks have been involved in Fartown’s history for more than 700 years, documents show.
George suggests that the original Anglian settlement, however, was on the north side of the brook, not its present south side.
So, in a sense, Fartown could have been called Neartown.
This would make Hillhouse the site of the original Fartown.
Huddersfield’s original manor house, Bay Hall, is in Hillhouse, and nearby Ark Hill Mound has been suggested as the foundation for a Norman motte, or castle mound, probably erected by the Conquest De Laci family.
A castle, however primitive or temporary, on this site would indicate the community’s strategic importance when Huddersfield itself was little more than a swamp.
Fartown remained wealthy through the Middle Ages, having a taxable population at least as large as that of Huddersfield.
George is also convinced that the pattern of ancient highways suggests that most travellers were more interested in getting to and from Hillhouse/Fartown than they were Huddersfield.
Food for thought – and a boost to Fartown’s civic pride, perhaps?