Gill (ravine)

A gill or ghyll is a ravine or narrow valley in the North of England and other parts of the United Kingdom. The word originates from the Old Norse gil.[1] Examples include Dufton Ghyll Wood, Dungeon Ghyll, Troller's Gill and Trow Ghyll. As a related usage, Gaping Gill is the name of a cave, not the associated stream, and Cowgill, Masongill and Halton Gill are derived names of villages.[2]

The stream flowing through a gill is often referred to as a beck: for example in Swaledale, Gunnerside Beck flows through Gunnerside Ghyll. Beck is also used as a more general term for streams in the north of England – examples include Ais Gill Beck, Arkle Beck and Peasey Beck. In the North Pennines, the word sike or syke[3] is found in similar circumstances. This is particularly common in the Appleby Fells area where sikes significantly outnumber the becks and gills; it can also be seen in the name of Eden Sike Cave in Mallerstang.

In the High Weald gills are deeply cut ravines, usually with a stream in the base[4] which eroded the ravine. These gills may be up to 200 feet (61 m) deep, which represents a significant physiographic feature in lowland England.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Anderson, G. K. (1938). "Two Ballads from Nineteenth Century Ohio". The Journal of American Folklore. 51 (199): 38–46. doi:10.2307/535942. JSTOR 535942. "I suggest-and it is only a tentative suggestion-that "g(u)ile" is "gill," spelled by Wordsworth "ghyll," a ravine or valley inclosing a small water-course."
  2. ^ Daelnet placenames index Archived 15 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 1 April 2012
  3. ^ Ferguson, R.S. (1885). "The earthworks and keep, Appleby Castle" (PDF). TCWAAS.
  4. ^ Natural England. National Character Area profile:122: High Weald. ISBN 978-1-78367-068-0.
  5. ^ Rose, F.; Patmore, J. M. (1997). Weald Gill Woodlands. English Nature, Sussex and Surrey Team, Lewes.

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