Where Is Pontefract And What Does Its Name Mean?


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Kath Senior answered
Pontefract is a medium sized market town in West Yorkshire. It is south west of Leeds and it lies just off the M62 near the ancient Roman town of Castleford. The mining industry used to be very strong in the area but all of the local pits are now closed down.

The name Pontefract means broken bridge and local historians think that there used to be a crossing of the River Aire near to where Pontefract first originated. They speculate that the bridge was damaged and people were forced to detour to find another crossing, and they founded Pontefract as a settlement in pre-medieval times.

The area has some Viking names – one area, thought to be the oldest, is called Tanshelf which comes from a Viking word. The town has a castle, built in the medieval period and Richard III was killed there. The town also has some ancient streets, such as Salters Row, where trading has gone on since the 1300s.

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