Booses and baux

We’ve had a rather nice drawing done for the project showing all the different dialect names for the parts of a cowhouse. We collected these from local people during the various open days we held earlier on in the project.

A Swaledale cowhouse

As with our last post, many of these dialect names have Old Norse origins, like skelbuse from ‘skelja’ meaning ‘to divide’; boose from ‘bas’ probably meaning box and group or groop from ‘grop’ meaning drain or open sewer. Even muck comes from the Old Norse word ‘myki’ meaning manure or dirt.

Not everyone agreed on the names. The skelbuse was also known as the boose heads or boos’yeads.

“They knew which ‘boos’, which is what we called the, you know, they were in sections, usually a stone slab that way on [stone stalls?] yes..boos’yeads, don’t know how you spell that! And the cows knew which one to go into…”

Margaret Fawcett (nee Alderson) (74), formerly Skeugh Head farm

‘Mew’ is a harder word to unpick. At face value it looks like it comes from the same origins as ‘mow’ as in cutting the hay, but it can also have the meaning of ‘to shut away or confine’. More likely though is from the Old English ‘mūgaand Old Norse ‘múgi’ having meanings of  stack, swathe or crowd. And indeed ‘mow’ descends from these too.

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