Low Cocklaw from the south
|Post town:||Berwick Upon Tweed|
Low Cocklaw is a little hamlet about three miles west of Berwick-upon-Tweed, in Northumberland. Until the early 1980s Low Cocklaw was a working farm but now it has become a wholly residential hamlet. It is though surrounded by rolling farmland which is dominated by cereal crops.
Allen Mawer rather tentatively identified Cocklaw with an early place-name appearing in records as Creklawe / Crokelawe, attested in 1296. If Creklawe is Cocklaw then the initial cr- points to an origin with the Cumbric / Old Welsh crug meaning 'hill', to which was later added Old English hlæw 'hill'. Otherwise 'Cocklaw' may be an entirely Old English word, meaning 'Cock Hill'.
Low Cocklaw is close to the ancient borough boundary of Berwick-upon-Tweed, which runs north-south at this point, and now forms part of the boundary of Northumberland with Berwickshire.
A road or track runs along this part and, in the past, was a route allowing horse-drawn wagons travelling between north and south to by-pass the tolls through Berwick. There were fords at the crossings of the rivers Tweed and Whiteadder and the wagons would need extra pulling-power to haul them up the hill north of the Whiteadder. Local tradition is that Low Cocklaw derives its name from this; a "law" being the local word for a hill and a "cock-horse" being a heavy draught horse. Hence the farm nearest the river, from which a draught horse could be hired, was Low Cocklaw and, for the next stage of the haul, the farm higher up the hill to the north was High Cocklaw. Further north again, on the other side of the hill on the same route, there is a Cocklaw Farm above Ayton village, which would have provided the same service for wagons travelling south to England.
Low Cocklaw is no longer a farm. It was converted into housing in the 1980s. On 8 December 2013 it had a population of 20, made up of 9 households.
- Bethany Fox: 'The P-Celtic Place-Names of North-East England and South-East Scotland' - The Heroic Age, 10 (2007), appendix