Village Web Site Forum

Robin Longbottom
Saturday, July 13, 2013 19:05
Smoot 'oyles
Visiting friends in Sutton the other night the question of smoot 'oyles cropped up. One said that they were the small holes through wall bottoms for rabbits etc. to pass through. Another said the the small holes were called lag 'oyles and that larger ones were called smoot 'oyles or cripple 'oyles and were for sheep to pass through a wall from one pasture into another. I've also heard cripple oyles called creep 'oyles, and thought the smaller holes were purely for drainage purposes.

No doubt many villagers will have seen them, particularly the large ones, usually blocked by a slate or flag. I can't help thinking that it would have been easier for the farmer just to leave a gate open, if they were just for sheep to change pasture. So they must have been used for a special reason, now no longer necessary. Perhaps they used them when they were doddin, or scoring sheep? Anyone any able throw any light on the subject?
Paul Wilkinson
Sunday, July 14, 2013 19:37
Hi Robin, I found the following in the "Book of Knowledge" describing one of the larger holes:

"The long slab bridges a 'sheep creep'. This enables farmers to separate out new lambs from ewes, allowing the lambs access to a feed of 'clean' grass. Depending on the area, they are also known as cripple holes, smoots, lunky holes, thawls, hog holes, thirl holes, or sheep smooses."

Maurice Atkinson
Sunday, July 14, 2013 21:32
Eee, we used to sneak through t'sheep oyle to avoid paying to watch Sutton United!
Terry Longbottom
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 11:46
A paragraph from “The Pennine Walls” by Arther Raistrick.
Other openings left in walls are ‘cripple’ holes for sheep, low square openings closed by a loose flag large enough to allow sheep to pass from one pasture to another if the flag is removed, but not large enough for cattle. These are called ‘smout holes’ further north.
Robin Longbottom
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 08:02
Thanks for the contributions. There appear to be quite a number of local dialect names for the same thing. I see some were known as hog holes, harking back to the days when pigs roamed 'free', a sight now seldom seen.

Just as a point of interest there was an area of Keighley known as Hog Holes, which was developed for housing in the 1870's. The new residents weren't happy with the name and therefore petitioned the Council who eventually changed it to Glen Lee. Keighley was famous for pig breeding in the 19th C and is where the Middle White was first bred by Joseph Tulley, it made its debut at Keighley Show in 1852.
Terry Longbottom
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 09:13
A definition of hogg, a sheep under one year old not yet sheared.
Robin Longbottom
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 11:06
Good point, Terry. Looking back to the days when I was an avid reader of Farmers Weekly (settling damage claims for the ESI), I recall hoggs and hoggets, gimmers, wethers and shearlings coming up at various auction marts.

It would tie in with the holes being used for separating lambs from ewes, or is it hoggs from yowes?

  Posting to the forum is de-activated due to lack of use.

  You are welcome to browse through posts but cannot add comments or start new topics.