Copyright 2014 Hidden Wirral
In the Wirral peninsula many of the names of the villages still show their Scandinavian origin. Thus Shotwick means the south wick or creek. This village stands at the edge of a strip of land that has been recovered from the sea. In early times, boats could run along the creek right up to the rising ground where now stands the village church.
An interesting name survives in the little hamlet of Thingwall, situated almost in the centre of the Wirral. Thingwall is the field where the 'thing', that is the tribe, assembled to divide the land and to dispense justice. You will recognize the same word in the town of Dingwall in the North of Scotland, and at the present day 'thing' is the Norwegian and Danish name for Parliament.
The ending '-by' in the villages Kirby, Irby, Raby, Frankby, and Helsby, is the Danish name for a township, and we see the word in our modern word 'by-laws', that is town laws. You will not find this ending in the names of villages in any other parts of Cheshire.
Wirral or the Wirral is bounded to the west by the River Dee, forming a boundary with Wales, to the east by the River Mersey and to the north by the Irish Sea. Both terms "Wirral" and "the Wirral" are used locally (and interchangeably), although the merits of each form are debated.
The roughly rectangular peninsula is about 15 miles (24 km) long and 7 miles (11 km) wide. Historically part of Cheshire, Wirral's boundary with the rest of Cheshire was officially "Two arrow falls from Chester City Walls", according to the Domesday Book. Under that definition, places such as Ledsham, Puddington and Saughall would be part of Wirral.
The Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore describes beings common to Wirral and the Cheshire/Lancashire border, called Poldies. Jacqueline Simpson, noted folklorist and co-author of the dictionary heard a story from a friend who had often visited Wirral during her childhood in the fifties.
Children going to the woods were told to come home before dark, because that was when the Poldies came out. The creatures were guardians of the woods, who punished anyone who damaged the trees by making them have some form of accident. A cousin of the informant deliberately twisted small branches off a tree and threw them away, despite her protests. Shortly afterwards he sprained his ankle, and this was attributed to the Poldies.
Years later, she heard that a building contractor had planned to cut down a wood before beginning developments in the area, but he abandoned his plans due to delays caused by flooding, machines breaking down and other problems. In the opinion of the locals, it was the Poldies defending their homes.