Arkholme has an extremely interesting place-name. Unlike many of the other place-names that we have looked at, Arkholme looked very different in the Domesday Book when it was referred to as ‘Ergune’. It only became ‘Erholme’ in the 1500s.
The first part of Arkholme comes from ‘erg’ and place-name scholars are still debating exactly what this means. It is connected to animal farming, signifying a small settlement where cattle were pastured during the summer.
It now seems to be likely to be connected to the medieval vaccary system in northern England. These were large-scale cattle management enterprises which produced oxen for ploughing and cattle for meat, hides, milk and cheese. There is a suggestion that this form of cattle rearing was perhaps pre-Roman. The word itself seems to have originated in Celtic Ireland and western Scotland as ‘áirge’ and was probably brought over by Scandinavian settlers in the 900s.
Unusually, and unlike Dolphinholme and Torrisholme, the ’holme’ part developed from the original ending -um, meaning ‘at the ergs’, and doesn’t relate to being by water – even though it is! Arkholme was of strategic importance and had a Norman defensive motte. This one was half of a pair with the motte at Melling, directly across the Lune.
The photo shows Main Street, Arkholme around 1900-1920 looking towards the crossroads with the Carnforth to Kirkby Lonsdale Road.