Origin of the Richmond Name
Richmond, the capital of Swaledale, was the first town in the world called by this name.
Swaledale was named for the River Swale which flows through Richmond. The word Swale came from the Danish name ‘Suales,’ meaning fast-flowing (the River Swale is the fastest flowing river in England).
In the 9th century, the Danes came to England via Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Lake District. Originally called Hindrelac, Richmond was mentioned in the Doomsday Book (which is held at the National Archives in Kew): Hindrelac is an Anglo-Viking name thought to describe a woodland clearing frequented by a hind or female deer.
The present name of this historic Swaledale town is Old French, and derives from ‘Riche-Monte,’ a common French place name which means strong hill. It was here in 1071 that a French Count named Alan the Red (Rufus) of Brittany built a castle on the lofty hill overlooking the River Swale. Alan was a Breton and he and his Knights had come from St Aubin du Cormier in Brittany. There are 57 communities called St Aubin in France. A Castle was built at St Aubin du Cormier to much the same design as Richmond in about 1170, but it is now a ruin.