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Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble

leeneia 18 Jan 19 - 11:19 AM
Manitas_at_home 18 Jan 19 - 11:29 AM
leeneia 18 Jan 19 - 02:21 PM
Helen 18 Jan 19 - 02:21 PM
Helen 18 Jan 19 - 02:24 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 18 Jan 19 - 02:25 PM
GUEST 18 Jan 19 - 03:51 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 18 Jan 19 - 06:51 PM
Acorn4 19 Jan 19 - 04:22 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 19 Jan 19 - 07:06 AM
leeneia 19 Jan 19 - 11:34 AM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Jan 19 - 11:05 AM
leeneia 20 Jan 19 - 10:27 PM
GUEST,Jon 22 Jan 19 - 04:22 AM
DaveRo 22 Jan 19 - 05:06 AM
GUEST 22 Jan 19 - 06:18 AM
leeneia 23 Jan 19 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Jon 23 Jan 19 - 11:24 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Jan 19 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,ottery 23 Jan 19 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,ripov 23 Jan 19 - 07:36 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Jan 19 - 08:11 PM
Acorn4 24 Jan 19 - 04:20 AM
Acorn4 24 Jan 19 - 04:22 AM
leeneia 25 Jan 19 - 11:00 AM
Iains 25 Jan 19 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,ottery 25 Jan 19 - 01:01 PM
DaveRo 25 Jan 19 - 02:35 PM
Iains 25 Jan 19 - 03:46 PM
Acorn4 26 Jan 19 - 01:44 PM
leeneia 27 Jan 19 - 12:02 AM
Iains 27 Jan 19 - 11:45 AM
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Subject: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: leeneia
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 11:19 AM

A recent thread about an old lyric contained the word "frith." The name of that other thread was "Origin: Fowles in the Frith (Middle English)".

The word frith intrigued me, so I looked it up in my unabridged dictionary from 1934. I was surprised to find about 9 column inches of friths and frith compounds. Reading it all gives us a view of life in long-past centuries.

I call doing this a ramble, because following the links in the word derivations is like going for a walk in safe but unfamiliar territory. It's fun. You just have to start with a rich word. Man or woman, say, or wisdom. Carburetor, not so much.   

(I am not going to quote the entries verbatim. That would be tedious.)
=========
Gradually I realized that there are two old words which happen to be spelled with the same letters. One frith comes to us from the north and has to do with water.   

1. frith: Middle English from Old Norse. See ford, cf firth fiord- a narrow arm of the sea, the opening of a river into the sea. A firth.

So a frith is a firth. This is a good example of how r's can move around in English words.

By the way, I have always wondered how the Firth of Forth got its name. If forth is a ford, then it's the firth of firth.
=========

The other frith is the one in the little poem first mentioned. It comes from the east, not the north.

frith - from ME, prob from Anglo-Saxon frithu peace, security, protection,

Definitions:
wooded country .
a tract of land grown with copse wood; a coppice,
a clearing in a wood.
unused pasture land.
coppice wood, esp. suitable for wattling

frith as a verb:
to fence in with wattle or underbrush
to preserve in peace, to help, to liberate (akin to German friede,
peace)

It's important to understand what a coppice is. Before people had good axes and saws, etc, they found it easier to deal with small tree branches, not big trunks. So they would cut down the trunk of a tree however they could and wait for the tree to send up shoots. In time the shoots would get thick enough to make a fence or a wall. A wood consisting of trees which have been treated in this manner is a coppice or corpse (same word).

For more solidity, you could fill the spaces between the branches with clay to make wattle-and-daub.

I have seen pictures of woods in England which were coppiced centuries ago. They still have the shape of shoots surrounded an old trunk.

These word derivations show that the old timers felt that once you had your coppice going and your homestead wattled, then you were safe. This may not be a naive as it sounds; probably getting all this done means that you are in a settled, co-operative community, and so you would be safer than otherwise. And so in the word frith we find peace and the woods (but not the dangerous, deep forest) intertwined.

There are some interesting compounds:

frithborh: a peace pledge

frithbot: a penalty or compensation paid for violating the peace.

[The dictionary didn't say whether this was a serious violation, such as a raid, or a misdemeanor, as when the harper gets wild and everybody has too much mead.]

frithgeard: an enclosed space. [I wonder if geard is yard]

frithles: twigs, sticks. [How did we lose track of this delightful word?]

Friththjofr: Icelandic. peacemaker. The hero of an Icelandic saga, prob. 13th or 14th C and of a modern poem in Swedish.   


So with this last entry, we see that good old frith has been a word for us from Anglo-Saxon times till the modern era. How long is that, a thousand years? Also with the last entry, possibly the only Germanic word that has two th's in a row.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 11:29 AM

Geard, yard, garth, garden, gard.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: leeneia
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 02:21 PM

Well, well. But what's a gard?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Helen
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 02:21 PM

Thanks leeneia. That's interesting.

I always liked the word "frith" meaning "peace" after I read The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico when I was a kid. The girl in the story was named Frith and the old man (I think) told her it meant "peace" which was relevant because the story is set during WWII and leads into the Dunkirk rescues.

You may be interested in a book that I mentioned in the Fowles in the Frith thread:
History in English Words by Owen Barfield


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Helen
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 02:24 PM

I'm guessing that "geard" and "guard" are possibly/probably related. A a fence guards what is in the space.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 02:25 PM

In OE frith was peace, tranquility, refuge; so the words to do with peace above relate to this.

In OE fyr(h)th was a wooded country; which is where ME frith in the poem came from.

Both words evolved into later frith (still in OED today with your various meanings).

OE geard was indeed a yard, enclosure, dwelling, land. This gave rise to middangeard - the middle earth = world. (Used by Tolkien as Middle Earth, and in Isengard; culled from Tolkien's day job!).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 03:51 PM

Yes, there are more than two different friths.

The one where the fowles are, meaning the woods, is cognate to Swedish furu (= pine) and modern English fir trees.

The one meaning peace, is cognate to Swedish frid (= peace), very easy to understand for any Scandinavian speakers. I don't think this word has survived into modern English in any way. Happy to be enlightened / reminded.

The other one is obviously cognate with Norwegian fjord, though the Swedes, who only have one strictly defined fjord, have another word as well, fjärd, which you may think is more or less the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 18 Jan 19 - 06:51 PM

Yes Guest - my shorter OED (1973) has most uses of frith as obsolete, except in the sense of wood. The peace meaning is listed as obsolete except in historical use. Frith as variant of firth is not marked obsolete.

There is (or was) apparently dialectial use as a verb meaning to fence in, to wattle or to undercut wood.

In addition to leeneia's compounds above SOED also has frith-stool (obsolete except in historical use) meaning a seat, usually stone, near the altar in some churches which afforded privilege of sanctuary.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Acorn4
Date: 19 Jan 19 - 04:22 AM

Around Leicester there are lots of these - Braunstone Frith, Kirby Frith two examples , and the fact that Leicester was part of the Danelaw for forty years would tie in with the Scandinavian links.

It would seem that some kind of common grazing/wood gathering rights were involved in this part of what was historically Leicester Forest and this would tie in with the "feelgood" "enjoyment" connotations.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 19 Jan 19 - 07:06 AM

And not that far from me, just North of Buxton in Derbyshire, the Normans established a church in their Frenchified Chapel-en-le-Frith!

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: leeneia
Date: 19 Jan 19 - 11:34 AM

There's a combination for you! Thanks.

Acorn4, I had never noticed any frith place-names till I saw your post.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 11:05 AM

Then of course there is also the Lord Frith, the Sun God, in Rabbit language in Watership Down.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 10:27 PM

Now THAT is definitely a whole nother ball game.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 04:22 AM

OT drift… But I first read “Frith” in this thread as “Ffrith”. There was a”Ffrith (pronounced “Freeth”) Farm in the village I lived in in N Wales… Google translate is the only site I found that offers a translation which is “Frith” but I’m not sure.

Anyway I thought I’d have a look at a couple of late 19thC OS maps and find they can’t make up their mind whether the area where the small farm is located is “Ffrîth” (with a circumflex) or “Ffridd”. If the alternative definition Google translate offers for the latter is correct, I’d guess that was the original spelling – or at least “mountain pasture” makes sense...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: DaveRo
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 05:06 AM

Coincidentally, I was reading yesterday of the 17th century parishes in this neck of the Weald, and came accross South Fryth which I then googled. This entry gives the 'peaceful' origin of fryth, though I do wonder whether 'wood' isn't just as likely - this was one big forest once.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:18 AM

Yes I remember seeing place names with ffridd in Wales


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: leeneia
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 11:17 AM

That's interesting. Google Translate says that ffridd means frith, so that's no help. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David gives the following:


ffridd        1. mountain pasture n.f. (ffriddoedd) sheep walk n.f. (ffriddoedd) intake (=reclaimed moorland) n. (ffriddoedd)

If it's the same word as the Anglo-Saxon, it has lost the woods somewhere. Do you suppose n.f. means 'noun from'?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 11:24 AM

No Welsh nouns have a gender. f would be female.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 12:07 PM

leeneia

The Geiriadur cenhedlaethol, cymraeg a saesneg (National dictionary welsh and english) (zoom in rh page, lh column, near bottom) of 1866 gives ffrith/fridd as a forest, a plantation. So perhaps that's now an obsolete meaning in Welsh (as in English), and why it didn't appear in your searches.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: GUEST,ottery
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 05:41 PM

By coincidence, I went walking today through some hill country near Newtown (Powys) and on my ordinance survey map was a wood marked as ffridd. Learning Welsh but sadly don't know enough yet to know if ffridd is current or not.

When I see "frith" I mainly think of lapine godhead.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: GUEST,ripov
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 07:36 PM

I believe that in the welsh, "f" is pronounced as english "v", "ff" as "f", and "dd" as "th".   So "ffridd" would be pronounced "frith". On old road signs "Cardiff" was written "Gaerdydd". I have also seen the "dd" used similarly on (supposedly) old maps of Scotland, but can't vouch for it's authenticity, maybe part of the gothic revival?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 08:11 PM

ripov - your comments on Welsh orthography and pronunciation are correct - with dd = th as in there (not as in thin) (and I've just noticed I misspelled ffridd above!)

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Jan 19 - 04:20 AM

Leicester Forest map attached link - note the map is by Francis Frith:-

https://www.francisfrith.com/uk/leicester-forest-east/maps


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Acorn4
Date: 24 Jan 19 - 04:22 AM

Note also:-

http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/25155


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: leeneia
Date: 25 Jan 19 - 11:00 AM

Thanks, Acorn, that's interesting. There are at least 3 friths there, Braunstone Frith, Glenfield Frith and Leister Frith. In the 19th C., people still distinguished between friths and forests.

There are of course 4 friths if we count Francis Frith, mapseller.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Iains
Date: 25 Jan 19 - 12:26 PM

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/frith

.....From Middle English frith, from Old English friþ, friþu (“peace, tranquility, security, refuge”), from Proto-Germanic *friþuz (“peace, reconciliation”), from Proto-Indo-European *priHós (“beloved, happy”). Cognate with Dutch vrede (“peace, quiet, tranquility”), German Frieden (“peace, tranquility”), Swedish frid (“peace, serenity”), Icelandic friður (“peace, tranquility”). Related to free, equivalent to free + -th (freedom/wiki/frith ..........


An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language (F)
fret, freit.
frith , frioth small, trifling ( Sh., O'R.), which M`A. says antecedes the noun, is the prep. frith or ri.
frith a sour or angry look (A.M`D.), frithearachd, peevishness, Irish frithir, peevish: *vr@.ti-; root of ri "against"?
fr?th a forest, deer forest, Irish frith, wild, mountainous place, Welsh ffridd, forest; from Middle English frið, deer park, Anglo-Saxon frið.
"In north Wales, 'ffridd' means land with no borders or land in a large field surrounded by a wall or fence. 'Coedcae' is a south Walian term referring to a wooded area."

The latter sentence is a little confusing as Coed is in North Wales as well eg coed y brenin outside Dolgellau (with coed meaning wood)
Interestingly the battle cry of the Macgregors is Ard Choille(the wooded heights)
and the irish Coillte is a semi state enterprise managing nearly 500,000 hectares of forestry.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: GUEST,ottery
Date: 25 Jan 19 - 01:01 PM

The entry for ffridd from the Geriadur Prifysgol Cymru can be found here:

http://welsh-dictionary.ac.uk/gpc/gpc.html


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: DaveRo
Date: 25 Jan 19 - 02:35 PM

I see from wictionary that old English fyrhþ is from the same root as forest. It seems likely to me that most place names derive from that rather than its 'peaceful' meaning.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Iains
Date: 25 Jan 19 - 03:46 PM

THE ORIGIN OF SOME ENGLISH PLACE NAMES (Tim Lambert)

FRITH: A frith was a forest where the right to hunt animals was reserved for the king or a noble.

http://mereja.com/words/Frith
Etymology 3

From Middle English frith, firth (“forest, game preserve”), from Old English fyrhþe, fyrhþ (“forest, sparse woodland, game preserve”), from Proto-Germanic *furhiþja- (“fir-wood, forest”), from Proto-Indo-European *perk?u- (“coniferous forest, mountain forest, wooded height”). Cognate with Old High German forst, foreht (“forest”), Old Norse f?ri (“pine-wood, coniferous forest”), Old English fyrh (“fir, pine”).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Acorn4
Date: 26 Jan 19 - 01:44 PM

That would tie in with the Friths to the north and west of Leicester as the whole area was once part of Leicester Forest until various Kings sold off the rights as they became short of cash.

James l was recorded as visiting and hunting in 1612. There is still a place called "King's Standing" which apparently used to be a scaffold arrangement from which he would shoot having become too old or arthritic to hunt on horseback.

A lot of the royal rights were sold off in the early part of Charles l's reign.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: leeneia
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 12:02 AM

Thanks. Those all add to the the saga of the word frith.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'frith' a Middle English ramble
From: Iains
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 11:45 AM

Another frith place name is Skenfrith on the welsh borders with a castle built by the marcher Lords after the Norman conquest. In this case it is an anglicised version of the welsh Ynysgynwraidd, which means "island of Cynfraeth", possibly a local 6th century leader.

How Skenfrith derives from this escapes me as the approximate pronunciation of the welsh is "innisgunwraeth" (apologies to native welsh speakers)


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