Here is the sixth  "position paper" for the 2012 Harbour Research project. Corrections and additions are welcomed. The purpose of the document is to seek people who will undertake serious research on aspects of the history of the harbour. JR 2012.

A. Locations within Scarborough harbour

B. Coastal Locations outside the harbour, within the bounds of Scarborough 

A. Locations within Scarborough harbour

Bath Terrace

The area in front of the old sea bathing infirmary, at the foot of the South Steel Battery, was the platform “where seamen most do congregate” - at a period of the 19th century (Meadley 79) 


The Bolts seems to be first mentioned in roadways called Vowtegate or Helgate. They survive as three lines of passages behind the shoreline houses, narrow and low. They said that it was one person at a time unless you wished to polish the walls. It is said that “Les boutes or vaults” were used as toilets, flushed by tides, but they ended as significant routeways. (Headley .Memorials of Scarborough 232) It has also been suggested that the Bolts were the line of the mid 13c waterfront but this is not certain. A rubble surface was found below numbers 4-26 Bolts.

The Botehill                                                                          15th century

The “botehill” for ship repairs was mentioned when the Borough Bailiffs ruled on 24.11.1488 that anyone having a vessel made or repaired at the Botehill should not remove it without paying the bailiffs 1s for each week. It is not obvious which of the “hills” within the harbour was meant.

Bugsby’s Hole                                                                                 19th century

The brig Britannia was laying there in 1848. (SG  27.7. 1848) The site has not been idenified. It may be that the famous Bugsby’s Hole at Greenwich, London river was meant. This was associated with pilots and hangings, including that of the pirate Captain Kidd.


The appears to be west of West Sandgate  inthe 13th century but has not been precisely identified. It may cross the damyet gutter.

Chapman’s Sluicing Basin

This is indicated on an early 19th century map, roughly where Lunar Park is now. A platform was to the north and the gulley holes to the south.

Dog and Duck lane and steps.

These link Quay Street and Burr Bank. The name  is said to derive from a character known as “Doggy Duck” who kept a noisy dog. Another story has a publican called Duck who kept the Spotted Dog Inn. The road is called Castle lane  on a 1725 plan.

Donkin’s Bite                                                                                   19th. Century

This is said to have been a location on the east or far pier, where the wall changed shape and dipped down. Fishermen measured their lines from Donkins Bite to the toll house. (R.J.Percy). Near here was the small cavity, forty paces along one pier, where  women poured a libation to secure the safe return of a spouse, while looking to sea, a local “superstitioous” practice. (Baker 483) 

The Dooker or Dowker Hole                                                        18th century

This gap was a short distance from the landward end of the old pier. In one account its purpose was to give egress to shipping passing from the harbour. It also provided a means of flushing out the harbour. The corporation ordered that the dowker hole be opened by the engineer in 1743-4 and made 21 foot at the bottom, widening upwards. The cucking stool was placed over the dowker hole. This was a wooden chair at the end of a beam, used to punish scurillous women by dipping them in the water. It was last used in 1795. A report of 18.10.1752 said that the  “Dooker Hole in the pier lately made by the engineer” was ruinous. Repairs were sought. Again in 1761, Izaak Stalker was told to throw a parcel of stones before the dowker hole to prevent the great weight of water coming. The later extension of the outer pier made the dowker hole useless and it was abolished by 1801. The word dowker was used to means “swimmers”.

The Damgeth Gutter                                                                      12th century

This water course was dug in the 12th  century to drain high  areas of the New far away as North Street and Dumple. It may be  that ditch by which a rustic dated a Heslerton charter in 1168. Arnold Carbonel dated his rent payments to the Easby Abbey canons for four oxgangs from the first Whitsunday after the digging of the “great ditch” at Scarborough in Winter 1167. (However, he ditch outside Newbrough or ditches in Castle Dykes might be meant.) The Damgeth water course was dammed to support a mill in the upper town. At one point the gutter was reported 25-35 feet wide and 18 ft deep. It held wild boar tusks  and black oak fragments. (Baker 78)

The ditch crossed St Sepulchre Gate at its lowest point and came down the cliff to pass between the sites of the later Lord Nelson inn and the XXXX. This may be a diversion. Hawson Herbert thought that West Sandgate itself was a ravine formed by this rill or watercourse.(HH p4). He wrote that when “the rill that came to West Sandgate” was opened, opposite the chandler's shop, two cobble pavements were found, one six feet down, and one ten feet down, underneath the “cliff to shore deposition”. The water course seems to have been eventually piped. The outlet in West Sandgate was flushed along with the Common Sewer by order of the Improvement Commissioners  in 1857.

The Gate (portam) to the Sands

A south wall separated the borough on the high ground from the cliff edge and the sands below, by the late 12th century. Sometimes it is called “the wall of the King”. It is mentioned in documents near the road later known as West Sandgate. Structure suspected to be part of the wall has been reported in one or two places but the course of the wall is not certain. Near the gate in the 12th-13th century, within or without the gate,  are a king’s highway, a gutter, a public street, Barbour lane, and later the place of the Abbot and Convent of Fountains.


“Gate” was the Yorkshire name for a road but could often be spoken as “yatt”. Early reference to Sandgate appears to mean what was called West Sandgate by the 15th century, and it was initially partly within the borough wall and partly outside it. By then a road on a stadia (staith) led towards it. East Sandgate is menioned by 1376 and has a common way running into it. The West and East Sandgates both have sharp bends to get from the high ground to the low with steep roads down the cliff. East Sandgate is called a king’s street in the 17th century. Baxtergate, Cartergate and Stanardgate are early Scarborough road names that have not been identified.

A great stone 

This was near the Quay Street in 1659. This may also have been described as the blue stone.

The Gulley Hole                                                                               19th century

The gulley hole experiment was made in c1810. (HH 8). A new opening was made, 24 feet wide, in the outer pier, about 130 feett from the inner end. Another opening was made opposite to it on the old pier. Between these two openings, two little jetties were run with another opening, to sluice the outer harbour. They could be boomed when needed. Rising waves should have gone through the passage to sweep the sand in the harbour down to the entry and out to sea. Sometimes this worked but the current running by the west side of the old pier deposited sand  at Vincents pier end and formed a sand bar.

It was argued that a west pier would have taken the westerly current across the pier ends and kept the entry clear. (Buckley 59)  Hawsons’s Map no 5 records 1812, the time when the sluicing process was carried on. The water made the ground so uneven by its scouring that ships strained and broke. There was pressure to close the gully hole in the old pier after 1825. A storm of November 1827 saw two brigs and a schooner break adrift. They were only stayed by the efforts of eight boat men who were given a £40 reward. The gulley hole was then stopped up. (Taylor 22)

The  Hills.

The sands, south of the 13th century quay and the later Quay street, had “ hills” called Mastus hill, Smiddy hill and Sandhill, and some later known from their occupiers as Bilbrough’s, Fowler’s, Cooper’s and Tindall  hills. A mediaeval hill can be a very modest rise. One is someimes called an island. Their origin is a matter of conjecture. Sandhill, mentioned from 1384, is even called “a hill or sea cliff”. The possibilities include an origin as natural features, remaining from an earlier cliff line or from cliff fall, stone house sites, ballast or  rubbish dumps, gatherings around remnants of early quays, even mediaeval saltings or the vanished tannery. Some solidity must be presumed, for the hills to resist the perpetual rage of the sea, which is known to have destroyed  piers and houses. Once a pier was built, sand tended to accrue but breaches in the pier were all too frequent.

By the late 14th century, houses were being or had been built south of the Quay. A single document refers to a new Quay. It would appear that the Quay had ceased to function as a quay. Sandhill was south of the garths, which belonged to and were themselves south of some houses in Quay street. Smiddy Hill, menioned in 1465, had Mast house garth on one side. Though first heard of as wasteland, it had presumably once been enclosed. Buildings were on some of the sandhills in the late 14th century.

Part of Smiddy Hill was laid out in 1693 for cobles to lie on in safety. In 1697 due to silting up of the harbour, manure was dug out and rubbish laid on Smiddy hill. Shipbuildings and associated industries now spread over the hills.  Buckley suggested that the hills existed, because ship building stocks had had to be built up so that launch ways could slope gently towards the sea. This is doubtfull since the hills are mentioned earlier than any known substantial ship building. Smith Hill or Tindalls Hill is shown on 18th century maps, amid shipbuilding south of the Tindall  properties.  A profile drawn then shows the elevation of the ground  above high water during  spring tides. Study of the available sources, including property deeds of all dates, should enable a clearer picture to be gained of  early harbour development.

Lancaster Flat

This area south of the Lancaster inn appears to be part of the artifical harbour side of Corporation quay. The collapse of the harbour wall at Lancaster Flat in 1982 was possibly due to the build up of water behind it. (SEN 28.4.1982)


The word “lane” was usualy applied to a way that was bounded on each side. Barber lane occurs in the 14th-15th centuries running south of Flesher Row, now called Merchants Row. Undercliff lanes included Cooper’s lane, Gibsons lane, Kirkby’s lane, Parkin’s lane, Pattison’s lane, Paycock’s lane, Porrit’s lane, Salmon lane or steps, Sandall’s lane, Shilbottle lane, Simpson's lane, Smith’s lane, and Tindall’s lane. One of the Parkins was a sailmaker. The Porrits and Tindalls were ship builders. Porrit’s lane was earlier called Coulson’s lane, who were also shipbuilders.

Shllbottle lane was an earlier name for Whitehead hill. We cannot yet prove that the wealthy merchants of the Schylboptyll family were here in 1409 but it is very likely. The road name occurs in 1615. Thomas Whitehead may have been here by 1709 but the road name doesn’t change till the 19th century. Spread Eagle lane was one of a series of short streets on the south side of  Sandside at the east end in the late 19th century, named after a public house. The lane was cleared away in 1944

 Long Greece. 

The name is derived from “gresse”, Old Norse for steps. 

Mast house garth  

This was desribed as a waste in 1615. Mast yard and Mastus hill are mentioned in the same century 


The local historian R. J. Percy suggests that oggy was slang for the harbour. Skinner was said to be a name for the foreshore.

The Pet Hole                                                                                    18th century 

The ships owners asked for the Pethole, the gap between the island pier and the new pier, to be improved  in 1786. It  was widened by 1801. The meaning remains obscure.

Robin Hood Garth

The garth was at the high end of Shilbottle lane, later Whitehead hill,  in 1776. The ballads “Robin Hood and Queen Katherine” and “the Noble Fisherman” are said to tell of Robin Hood’s moves to London and Scarborough. Robin Hood is portrayed as staying at a Scarborough widow’s inn and sailing incognito in her ship. Literary references begin in the early 14th century. (The True Story of Robin Hood, J W Walker ,1973)

The name Hood also occurs locally. A William Hode was a lay brother in 1301 while a Robert Hode pays 2s 5d tax at Lebberston. Thomas Deyvill, lord of Hood, and Isabella de Vescy who also held that place were active in Scarborough .The Earl of Lancaster had the Wakefield lordship 1318-22. A Wakefield woman had Scarbrough tenants in the late 14th century. In 1322-3 King Edward held the Duchy estates amd sent two valets to Pickering forest to take deer.

The Sands

The sands were a sloping beach. When the borough of Scarborough expanded south of the borough wall onto the sands below the cliff, in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, documents speak of houses sited  variously “in a road towards the sea”, “in Cartergate near the sea”, “under the cliff of Scarborough” and “below the castle”. We hear of an enclosure on the sands. Later a staith and a quay were built along a small part of the sea frontage. By the 14th century, the high waterside was some way south of it, of the Quay so that it no longer served as a quay. Houses were built extensively on the sands in later centuries. 

Throughout most of  the history of Sandside, there was no road of that name and there was scarce room to pass between the buildings and the water, when the tide was in. At high tides, there was no room at all. The water edged the buildings. When the tide was was out, 200 yards by 1100 yards of pure sand served for movement by foot, horse and carriage. Many people were employed loading and leading asses with sand to carry off for family use. Some 16th century sketches showed ships which had thrown out an anchor  remaining high and dry, on the sandy shelving beach, as the water receded.. 

Sandside in later centuries was filled with ship building yards, sail lofts, timber yards, shipping stores and workshops. Buckley says that the Corporation had no right of way along Sandside until they bought out the Tindall shipyards, from Vincents pier westwards to the Old Buoy Inn, in 1826. (Buckley 99). The later replacement of shipyards and other structures allowed the development of the Sandside road. There have been many changes since. The Construction of Corporation Quay  brought a new frontage replacing that of early Victorian times.  Stevedores buildings were demolishd in 2000 and the street resurfaced in 2007


Quay Street has Bakehouse  steps rising to Burr Bank and Long Greece Steps. Courting steps run down below Eastborough. There are Lord Nelson steps and the Custom House steps rise from Sandside to Tuthill. 


Most of the mediaeval roads of Scarborough are called “gates”. Only Quay street and Finkle Street are called streets. The name implies paving. It may suggest that the road was actually on top of the quay. The precise location of Finkle Street near the Bolts is not clear. Elsewhere Finkle streets are often short roads linking others, sometimes at an angle.

The Undercliff Quarter

The bulk of the 12th century borough of Scarborough remained on the high land,above the boulder clay cliffs facing the sea, but an Undercliff “suburb” developed south of the south wall, and was eventually viewed as a quarter or a ward of the town . Early gablage, wtihin the old borough, was  the house rent due to the king. This was set at 4d for a house end on to the way and 6d for a house side on to the way in 1158.  When let to others as tenants, most houses in the town also paid sizeable under rents. The borough passed a rule that anyone enclosing eight houses within a single tenement only paid gablage on one.

Land “under the cliff” in the 12th century belonged to such men as Ralph de Bolbec, Haldane, Alan son of Ingram, William son of Thomas de Limburg, Adam de Roston, Thomas Sesse and Thomas Waterleder. Some houses built by burgesses on the sands near the sea were clearly required to pay greater sums towards making up the king’s farm than 4d and 6d. Two men  had early chief houses called “capital messuages” on the shore. There were two early stone houses. Thomas Sesse had a herring house. Where the 12th century deeds spoke of a “portam sabulonis”, and of under the cliff and below the castle cliff, the 14th century property grants include  sites on or above” the quay”, on the sandhill near the sands towards the quay, on the westsandhill near the sands, on or near the sands, at the road on the staith towards Sandgate, as well  as near or under the wall.


The  yards are mentioned relatively late. Off Quay street, were Adamson’s yard, Clarkson’s yard, Coate’s yard, Coulson’s yard, Dawson’s yard, Gas house yard, March’s yard or lane, Mast Yard, Nesfield’s yard, Oxley’s yard, Porrit’s yard, Smith’s yard, Wharton’s yard, and Wyrill’s yard. All except Mast and Gas House yards have family names. The Wharton family were shipbuilders. West Sandgate had Shooter’s yard. A Tinker’s yard, Black Horse yard and Wyvill’s yard were off Tuthill. East Sandgate had Allthorpe’s yard. Maling's yard was a large yard north of the Bolts owned by that gentry family


B. Coastal Locations outside the harbour,within the old bounds of Scarborough 

Betty Muffett rocks, just past the Corner cafe.

Black Rocks, from South Bay pool site to White Nab

Bland’s Cliff

This appears as staith cliff near the dwelling house of John Bland in 1719.

His staith was at the bottom. After cliff falls steps were made to the sands and c1723 a horse road. The preceding lane was called Cowgate.

Carnelian Bay, 

This starts at white Nab but was in the next township not Scarborough. Agates, red carnelians, stones bearing fossils and other rarities were sought by spaw visitors on these beaches.

Castle Rock

The hill rises to near 100 metres above sea level, consisting largely of Jurassic rocks. It has provided evidence of early Iron Age activity. Some have wondered if this was the coastal hill fort mentioned by the Roman Ptolemy. Here was a Roman signal station and a pre Norman chapel. A timber castle enclosed the plain after 1138 and was replaced by a stone castle after c1158.

The castle garth was given as 21 acres in 1558 and as 17 acres in 1830. (HH, p.9). An 18th century map identifies these features - the master gunner’s house, the magazine, Bishops battery, the castle gates, the old magazine, the glacis, the covered way, South Steel battery, Charles’s tower,  old quarries, an old chapel, Lady’s well, another well, ponds, the castle walls, arches where there were draw bridges, sally ports, and a communication between the castle and South Steel battery.

Part of the Castle Cliff was known as ‘bloody wall” and accidents were  recorded there. (Meadley, 97)

Castle Holmes,

The holmes occupy the lower ground west of castle garth. The 29th Regiment at the castle barracks in 1788 used the spring to supply their two water casks. When they left, the casks remained useful for years. A gun battery was placed in the holmes in 1794 to guard the north shore. A coble landing is marked west of the holmes near the stream in Carver’s map of c1843. Stone was taken from Castle Holmes to Limekiln hill above for burning.

Charnel garth.

This area on the norh side of the road to the catle, overlooking north bay was used for burials in the Middle Ages. Here was a chapel dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, with chantries served by chaplains. Three chaplains lived within the cemetery and were allowed to build houses in 1384.

Coffee pot. This was a single rock, at or near the most northerly part of the marine drive north of the Castle

Cuddy Rood

This area  above the cliffs has been said to be named from some donkeys that were kept there. Others have seen in Cuddy a common rendering of Cudbright, used when referring to St. Cuthbert. A road called  Cudbrightgate runs east-west across the limestone hills west of Scarborough and his name is rcalled in a site at Hackness. (This is a long shot.) The area above the east end of the harbour is also referred to as Bawdy bank in 1626 when a striglayer acquired land near Castle dikes. The area is also called  Burr  Bank.

Devil’s walk, on the north side of the castle.

Dovehole Scarr, off the south bay pool site, marked on an Admiralty chart of c1843.

Dripple Cotes was the land area and cliffs west of the spaw.

The Dropping spring 

This water course fell from South cliff and was used to bathe eyes. It had been given a projecting spout.(Chapman, vol.1, p152) It is mentioned in 1771. The area saw a cliff fall in 1823. (Prescott, vol. 14). It is sometimes mapped as the “Dripping spring”.

North and South Steel. 

H. Herbert mentioned the North and South steel rocks, part of the Castle headland. He reported much erosion from South steele, where 35 years before his writing two small caves going in twenty feet had been covered by a rock fall. The borough built a gun battery and sentry house  at South steel in 1643, despite it being within the castle bounds.

Gambol stones are off the Marine Drive, due east of South Steel and the Charles Tower of the castle.

German Ocean was the 19th century name for the North Sea.

Hairy Bob’s Cave

A door and a window carved in the rock at the bottom of Castle Hill, near the site of the Marine Drive north tollhouse was called Hairy Bob’s Cave. Some claim that a Scarborough lad called Bob Bogg lived in another  cave nearby now blocked up. Mrs. Pinnington said that the cave was carved by a boy called Pexton a hundred years earlier, and was called a chapel. (Prescott 1243). Others have thought stone masons might  have made the cave c1880 during construction of the Royal Albert Drive. Yet others have suggested a Hairy Bob who sold sandstone for doorsteps in the period 1870-1900.

King Street Steps

These were made to link King Street with the sands by Stephen Wharton, replacing a rugged descent to the shore. (Meadley 93)

Holebeck is a stream entering South Bay, which gives name to the nearby hill and roads.

Lady Dock

This is said to have been a coble landing, or small slipway, in North Bay.

It appeared as a small archway built into or under the Royal Albert Drive. When the Marine Drive and Royal Albert Drive area sea defences were improved early in the 21st century, this was retained but a later slip in the Clarence Gardens narrowed the arch. It was a bad place for landings. It was probably intended mainly for use in an emergency.

Mask rocks are marked on an 1845 map on the north sands east of Peasholme.

Mill beck

The appears on a 16C sketch, with  both a mill and the beck on c1685 map, where the Valley enters the south bay. The stream will have had an earlier name. The beck drove three mills created by the borough after they acquired the manor of Falsgrave in the 13th century. They had their own mill ponds to build up a head of water and were worked for centuries.

Monkey Island.

In the North Bay, near Scalby beck, now eroded. It was said that a sailor’s monkey once escaped there In c1950. This was then a substantial hillock, reached by the beach and only isolated in very high seas. It was said to have  had a flat top c1900 suffficient to play football on.


A beck ran to the sea through a marshy area, where a hill was once fortified. The narrow valley was called the ingryft and the stream the Ynggrift beck. A star fort was nearby in Civil War times. The fort hill became known as roll-egg hill from the Easter custom of rolling coloured eggs down it. (Meadley 111). Football was played there at Whitsuntide. The Ship inn was nearby and there was open air dancing with a fiddler.


Ramsdale was the name given to the valley broadly linking Falsgrave village with the sea. This held a stream  known as Ramsdale beck or Mill beck. Enclosures of pasture ground were made in Ramsdale in c1601. (Ashcroft, vol.1 p. 23) A defensive ditch was cut there in 1642 and a gun battery using cannon balls was sited on Ramsdel Mount in 1644.

Ramsdale Scar

Ramsdale Scar was a natural rock formation projecting into the sea south of Ramsdale. It appears on several charfs and maps. A forified turret appears somewhere about the site on a 16th century sketch. A pier was planned to run from the scar to millbeck in 1733. Part of this “millbeck pier” was built but it inconvenienced spa visitors. The Corporation stopped the work and used the stone at the harbour to lengthen the outer pier. (Buckley, 58) (Charlton) The aim of the pier may have been to delay the flow of sand into the harbour. Some rocks were later blasted away to give level sands in front of the Spa. (SG. 28.6.1860). It is possble that an earlier pier had been made on the Ramsdale Rocks. An undated  map/picture shows such a structure. Two warping buoys were sited east  of the  scar in mid 19th century.

Scarborough Road means the sea waters east of Scarborough.

Scarborough Wicke, or Wyke, was  another name for south bay, on a c1685 map.

Snake Hill Cliff was part of the cliffs south of Ramshill cliffs.

Spa Well was on the sands with a stream and a house behind on the c1695 map.

Tintin Holmes.

The coastal stretch west of Castle Holmes was called Tintinholme from the 14th century to 1628. Latterly the name was sometimes rendered Tindall holmes. It has been speculated whether the name contained the Norse “thing” for a district meeting place. (This is a long shot)

Terraces are a late 19th century street name, used at Neptune Terrace south of Merchant’s Row, Pier Terrace, Tank Terrace and West Sandgate Terrace.

Tuthill may be derived from the Old English “totehill” for lookout hill.

White nab names the headland below Wheatcroft. This was much quarried for stone for the harbour piers. 

Wheatcroft named high and low farmsteads at the south extremity of Scarborough south field in an area apparently detached from the common fields further north by the 17th century.

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