Who was Brian?

Brian’s Pond at Clough Gill Top has always intrigued me.

An oasis on the bleak Bilsdale West Moor.

But just who was Brian?

The name and pond appears on the 1857 Ordnance Survey Six-inch map1Yorkshire 42 (includes: Bilsdale Midcable; Carlton; Faceby; Little Busby; Whorlt… – Ordnance Survey Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952. Available online at: https://maps.nls.uk/view/102344290#zoom=6&lat=2231&lon=10664&layers=BT [Accessed 10 Jun. 2022]. and I’ve always thought it a modern name. But I find it was actually a fairly popular name for Arthurian knights: Brian de Listinoise, Brian of the Forest Savage,  and Brian of the Isles, all perhaps named after the Norman knight who fought at the battle of Hastings in 10662Pre-Conquest alphabetical list. Royal Holloway, University of London. Available online at: https://intranet.royalholloway.ac.uk/history/documents/doc/preconquest/as-main-listing-sans-refs.doc.

And of course, Brian was a contemporary of the Messiah in Nazereth and a very naughty boy3Wikipedia Contributors (2022). Monty Python’s Life of Brian. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Python%27s_Life_of_Brian [Accessed 10 Jun. 2022]..

If we take liberties with the spelling there is also Brien,  nephew of Caedwalla, the King of Wessex,  who sliced off and cooked his own flesh to feed his uncle.  In 632, he murdered the Northumbrian astrologer Pellitus, on Caedwalla’s orders.4Pre-Conquest alphabetical list. Royal Holloway, University of London. Available online at: https://intranet.royalholloway.ac.uk/history/documents/doc/preconquest/as-main-listing-sans-refs.doc. Or there’s Bryan FitzAlan, Baron FitzAlan Knt., who was Lord of the Manor of Bedale in the early-14th-century5Wikipedia Contributors (2022). Bryan FitzAlan, Lord FitzAlan. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_FitzAlan,_Lord_FitzAlan [Accessed 10 Jun. 2022].. Askham Bryan village takes its name from him.

However a hint of the real Brian can perhaps be found in an article in the Northern Weekly Gazette from 19066Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk. (2022). On The Open Moors. A | Northern Weekly Gazette | Saturday 04 August 1906 | British Newspaper Archive. [online] Available at: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003075/19060804/078/0012 [Accessed 10 Jun. 2022].. The author signs himself ‘S. A. Harris of Carlton-in-Cleveland‘, so a local, which must carry some weight:

Now before us, in the lowest part, of the tableland, we espy a moorland pond, this is Bryan’s Pond, perhaps named after “Bryan Born,” of ancient Irish fame, who may have assisted the Irish saint, St. Botolph, in founding the church at Carlton.

Seems just as dubious as any of my suggestions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *