11 December 2018


Did you ever hear the song "I've Been Everywhere"?  It was written in 1959 by an Australian country and western artist called Geoff Mack. That first version included lists of Australian place names. but perhaps the most famous version of the song was recorded by Johnny Cash. In his rendition the Australian place names were replaced with American names:-

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man,
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel, I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere
I've been to: -
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottowa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattua, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocapillo,, Pocotello, Amperdllo...

Hailing from The East Riding of Yorkshire, I thought it was nigh time to create an East Yorkshire version with place names that reflect the history of that wondrous corner of England. Many of the names are rooted in our Norse or Viking heritage though others reflect pre-Christian, Saxon, Norman and even Victorian influences. Which ever way you look at it, the East Yorkshire names have a very different sound and flavour

I have been everywhere my friend
I have been everywhere my friend
Crossed The Yorkshire Wolds my friend
I have inhaled the North Sea  air my friend
Travel, I have had my share
I've been everywhere my friend
I've been to:-
Wetwang, Swine. Holme on Spalding Moor, Withernwick, Ulrome, Skidby, Thorngumbald, Land of Nod, Skerne, Aike, Brandesburton, Pocklington, Nafferton, Rise, Skeffling, Sigglesthorne, Catfoss, Meaux, Rudston, Fraisthorpe, Hull...

I could write a blogpost about each one of those East Riding places but please don't sigh. That is not going to happen. Instead let me just focus on Fraisthorpe - a small coastal settlement just south of the seaside town of Bridlington.

My father would often take me there with my brothers and we would change into our swimming trunks in the shadow of concrete World War II defences left behind on the beach before running into the cold and opaque North Sea.

"Fraisthorpe" is called "Frestintorp" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The suffix "thorpe"  indicates that it was originally an outlying farmstead. The beginning of the name indicates that that farmstead of long ago was owned by a man called Freistingr or Freysteinn. Either of these first names reveal a Norse connection. 

It is possible that there was a settlement at Fraisthorpe before Vikings arrived in the ninth century but if there was, its name is lost in the mists of history... which is everywhere, man. 


  1. I always thought the "thorpe"-ending denotes a settlement, a small village. It is easy to understand why I came to that conclusion, since "Dorf" means village in German.
    My sister-in-law lives in Littlethorpe (Ripon). It really is a little "Dorf" - there are scattered handfuls of houses, a tiny church, a village hall and a manor; no shops, no pub, no post office.

    1. It does mean that but both definitions are acceptable!

    2. Yes. I understand that "-thorpe" can also mean a small settlement though many settlements grew from a single seed which may well have been a farmstead. Without mechanisation, a farm may have needed a lot of people power.

  2. There was a general UK version as well, made popular by Rolf Harris, who also added some tongue-twisting Welsh place names. We won't be hearing that version anytime soon!
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    1. Thanks for calling by Bazza. I notice that you are a bank robber so I am a bit wary about checking out your blog. I guess there are posts about balaclavas, gloves and how to crack a safe. Do you also offer advice on coshes and pepper spray?

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    1. Aussie singer Geoff Mack wrote the song in 1959, and three years later, in 1962, the most famous version of "I've Been Everywhere, Man" here in Australia was by Lucky Starr...it was a massive hit, countrywide. I doubt there was an Aussie who had not heard of the song. It sure was everywhere!

      Johnny Cash's version which he made a few decades later was no where near the hit here in this country that the original was....and if you asked anyone of that era...the era of the Lucky Starr original version...that would be the one they would mention.

    2. I am sure that that is true in Australia.

    3. Would I lie to you, Yorkie? The answer is "No!" I'm not in the habit of lying.

      Yes...it is true in Australia. Furthermore, Johnny Cash's cover version arrived 34 years after Lucky Starr's huge hit...and 37 years after Gerry Mack wrote the song!

      I recall seeing Lucky Starr perform the song live, in concert one evening back in the early Sixties.

    4. I was not suggesting you were lying Lee. I was just saying that the song may have been very popular in Australia - the place of its birth - but for the rest of the English speaking world it took Johnny Cash's version to bring it to the fore. Besides, that was not the central focus of this blogpost. I mainly wrote it to showcase the character of East Yorkshire place names.

  4. The Land of Nod? Really?

    1. Yes. I have been there. It is a tiny "community" near Holme on Spalding Moor. There's really just a couple of farms there that nowadays specialise in the production of turf. I suspect this name was lifted from The Bible and won't go very far back in time.

  5. I don't know that song, but I'm impressed that someone managed to work both Sarasota and Tampa into the lyrics! As for your version, for some reason, Sigglesthorne and Catfoss both make me laugh.

    1. They were both within easy cycling distance of my childhood home. Everyone knew Sigglesthorne simply as Siggy.

  6. Hank Snow was probably the most famous singer of that song in the United States - his version came out in 1962. That's the one with which Canadians are most familiar as well. Johnny Cash was much later, although perhaps for a different generation his was more popular.

    Your version is full of tongue-twisters! It never ceases to amaze me what difficult name places you have there. Maybe they are just difficult to a person who hasn't grown up with them, though.

    1. I am pleased that you played with those names on your tongue Jenny. When I was growing up those names seemed perfectly normal to me. It was all I knew. Now at this distance the names speak differently to me.

    2. I love Giggleswick. Never been there, but the name is nice.

    3. I have been to Giggleswick. All the residents were giggling.

  7. A valiant effort, but you need to work on the inner rhyme schemes and ending rhyme schemes that were the genius of the Johnny Cash version (I can't speak to the other versions):

    First verse:
    Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota,
    Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota,
    Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma,
    Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma,
    Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo,
    Tocopilla, Barranquilla and Padilla.

    Second verse:
    Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana,
    Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana,
    Monterey, Ferriday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa,
    Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa,
    Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake,
    Grand Lake, Devils Lake and Crater Lake.

    Third verse:
    Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika,
    Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica,
    Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport,
    Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport,
    Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina, Pasadena and Catalina.

    Fourth verse:
    Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado,
    Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, Eldorado,
    Larimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chatanika,
    Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika,
    Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City,
    Sioux City, Cedar City and Dodge City.

    Surely there are enough -thorpes and -burys and -tons and -wicks and -bys and -combes around in your neck of the woods to come up with a really knee-slapping U.K. version! The world is waiting for your talent....

    1. You are of course right to criticise me Sir Bob. In pulling those East Yorkshire names together, I was focused more upon the individual name sounds than upon the combined effect. For this I humbly apologise. However, the world will have to keep waiting...and waiting.

  8. I'm really disappointed. I thought you were going to sing your version of I've been everywhere.

  9. Does west Yorkshire have more boring plcae names?

    1. No way! Here's just a sample of West Yorkshire place names - Cleckheaton, Greasborough, Crigglestone, Upper Thong, Kippax, Idle, Hades...


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