The ‘Lonnen’?

The 'Lonnen'?

Since I’ve been asked this question a couple of times, I thought it a good idea to explain what a ‘lonnen’ is, and what it’s doing in the title of my blog.

Simply put, the word ‘lonnen’ is contemporary local dialect for ‘lane’. Though you will rarely hear this word actually spoken, it is still a feature in local place names around the north-east.

One in particular is Sandy Lonnen, which reaches from Whickham to Sunniside in Gateshead. Though now only a muddy track, Sandy Lonnen was originally part of a road which existed in medieval times and extended south into the Derwent valley. This was thought to be a popular route for ‘drovers’, people driving herds of cattle to market. Local legend tells that the famous ’roundhead’ political leader Oliver Cromwell marched along this lonnen and nearby Clockburn Lonnen with his army during the English Civil War; presumably to attack the royalist town of Newcastle. Looking at the lane today you couldn’t imagine driving a car along it, let alone an army!

Additionally, a more archaic meaning of the word lonnen may have been ‘sheep-sty’.

Photo credit: P. Glenwright

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