Aydon Moor/ Aydon Forest (aka Alnwick Moor)

Alnwick Moor has had the alternative name, Aydon Moor or Aydon Forest, since early times. The name variations listed below show how a place name can change through time.

Haidene/ Mora de Haydene                      1157-1185 Tate Vol. 1 Appendix i

Haydene/ Mora de Haydene                     1226 – 1253 Tate Vol. 1 Appendix i

Haydene/ Haydenmore                              1290 Tate Vol. 1 Appendix ii

Mora de Alnewyke et Haydene                 1325 Percy Chartulary P 262  

Heydene                                                         1325 Tate (Vol. 2 appendix viii)

Hayden                                                           1474 Tate Vol. 1 p. 262 note

Aydon/Aidon For(r)est of                           1624 Norton Maps

Hayden Forrest of                                        1647 Tate Vol. 1 p. 100

Hayden Close                                                1700 Tate Vol. 2 p. 275

Hayden Close or Hawden’s Close             1757, 1772 Tate Vol. 2 p. 275

Ha(e)ydon Forest(?)                                     1760 Isaac Thompson map (Ha or He damaged on edge of map)

Haydon Forest or Alnwick Moor               1762 Tate Vol. 2 p. 294/ 295

Aydon Forest                                                 1769 Armstrong map

Haydon forest of                                           1770 Wilkin map

Ayden forest                                                  1773 Wilkin map

Aydon forest                                                  1786 Sauthier map

Aydon Forest                                                 1828 Greenwood Map

Hayden Forest                                               ca. 1845 Tate Vol. 2 p. 157

Aydon Forest/ Aydon Moor                       Modern usage

The earliest names clearly show that the name is Haydene/ Heydene. Note that the modern name Aydon only goes back to the 1620s in the evidence.

The name Haydene seems to be composed of the 2 names elements: ‘Hay’ and ‘Dene’.

‘Hay’ may represent mown grass/ fodder, from Old English (OE) hieg/ heg. This occurs in the name Haydon Bridge = ‘Hayden’ 1255 = Hay Valley, appropriate to its locality in the Tyne Valley. However, Alnwick Aydon Forest/Moor was an upland, forested, moorland, often described as ‘waste’, un-enclosed until the later Mediaeval period, so unlikely to have been pastureland, producing hay.

A more relevant possibility may be ‘Hay/Hey’ and its cognate form ‘Haw’ from OE Haga/ (ge)-Haege = Hedge, fence, boundary, enclosure and/ or the later Norman French Haie = fence. Such enclosures may be around settlements; around land cleared for agriculture; forested land hedged to allow domestic animals like swine to forage; forest enclosed for deer hunting, or to trap deer in ‘Hay Winds’. Haydene Forest/ Moor may have formed part of the deer forests of the Anglo- Saxon, and then later Norman lords of Alnwick, which may have later reduced in extent, to the present deer park of Hulne. However, the many early Anglo-Saxon ‘hays’ appear to reflect the pressures between the rights of communal pasture for settlements, and their restriction with the development of powerful lordships. Such rights for the burgesses of Alnwick are confirmed, for later mediaeval times, in the 3 Vescy Charters, and these communal rights may have been bitterly defended from earlier Anglo-Saxon, Pre-Conquest times. (See  Charters From the De Vescys to the Burgesses of Alnwick – Alnwick Heritage

‘Dean/ dene’ in the Scottish Borders and the North of England means steep sided/ wooded valley, and its associated burn, from the OE Denu = valley.

The name Aydon is also found in other places across Northumberland. The well-known village of Hayden Bridge, formerly Ayden Brigge in the South Tyne Valley; Aydon Castle and Aydon township near Corbridge, and the former hamlet of Hayden near Ellington, and for all of the names, the name being ‘derived from a neighbouring dene and not from an eminence’. (County Hist. Northumberland vol. 10 p.333) 

Hence, Hayden/ Aydon Forest and Moor likely takes its name from one of it’s several denes, which may have contained an enclosure of fenced land, within a forest, for the pasturing of domestic animals. In the north of England, such enclosures/ ‘hays’ are often associated, ‘with rough pasture between settlement and moorland.’

The most likely valley/dene would be that closest to the settlement of early Anglo-Saxon Alnwick, the Stocken or Stocking Burn, which drains a large part of the inner Aydon/ Alnwick Moor, just to the west of Alnwick. At the head of the Stocken lies the modern Hawden Grange farm. In the North of England, ‘haw’ is a cognate form of the name ‘hay’ and so Hawden/ Hayden (Grange) may lie close to an early Anglo-Saxon or Post- Conquest ‘Haydene’ -the valley of the forest enclosure/ hedge/ fence for the pasturing of livestock.

Ordnance Survey NU11SE – A (1: 10000) map from 1957. Hawden Grange can be seen lower left lying on the Moor Road, and draining the moor to the NE is the significant stream and valley of the Stocken/ Stocking burn.