Overton is a small, yet picturesque, village today. Its historic significance can be glimpsed in its church, which was built just after the Norman Conquest.
Overton is first named in the Domesday Book as Ouretun. At first sight you might think that it refers to its position ‘over’ the River Lune from Lancaster. But the ‘over’ actually comes from the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) ‘ofer’ meaning ‘shore’.
So, it is the significant settlement (or ‘tun’) on the shore.
Overton has a partner hamlet – Ortner in Over Wyresdale. Ortner is first recorded in 1323 as ‘Overtonargh’. As outlined in last week’s post on Arkholme, an ‘erg’ is probably connected to the vaccary system where large numbers of cattle were reared and managed for ploughing, meat, hides and dairy. It wasn’t uncommon in Lancashire for low-lying villages to have a separate piece of upland. This was so that each village could be more-or-less self-sufficient.
Middleton is literally the middle ‘tun’ between Overton and Heysham – again showing that these were the more important settlements.
The photo shows Overton around 1900.