I recently read something that mentioned the English village of Giggleswick. That name was so fun I had to look it up: it’s a two-part place name made up of the Old English personal name Gikel or Gichel plus the Old English word wic meaning “dairy farm” or “dwelling.”
And inside the village is another interesting name: Alkelda. The church of St. Alkelda in Giggleswick is one of two churches in the North Yorkshire region named after the legendary local saint who may have been an Anglo-Saxon princess…or may have been entirely made up. Doubters note that the name “Alkelda” is suspiciously similar to haeligkeld, an Anglo-Saxon place name meaning “holy spring” or “holy well.”
So have any real-life babies been named after St. Alkelda? Yes, I found records for more than a dozen Alkeldas — all were born in England, and most were born in Yorkshire specifically.
The earliest Alkelda I found was Alkelda Browne, who married Willus Hill in Giggleswick in 1578. Next was Algitha Alkelda Brenda Orde-Powlett, who was born and died in 1871. (Elea mentioned Algitha Alkelda her Finds from 1871 post.)
Here are a few of the other Alkeldas:
- Olive Alkelda Clark, b. 1879, in Essex
- Enid Alkelda Brocklehurst, b. 1902 in Yorkshire
- Frances Alkelda Outhwaite, b. 1904 in Yorkshire
- Alkelda A George, b. 1926 in Yorkshire
What are your thoughts on the name Alkelda?
- Britannia Biographies: St. Alkelda
- Mills, A. D. A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Well, well – who was the real St Alkelda?
Image: Adapted from Middleham Church by John Clift under CC BY-NC 2.0.