I was reading this question What is the reciprocal verb of "to thank"?, and naturally the (non existent, but surely quite useful) word unthank came to mind. I then recalled there are several places in England and Scotland called Unthank. Does anyone know why they are called this rather strange name? Presumably it isn't due to the ingratitude of the inhabitants.
The Internet Surname Database gives this explanation:
Rahul (in the comments here) makes a great observation about the Surname Database's facts:
(I think Rahul is almost certainly correct about this.)
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This name, Unthank, while not common, appears in Scotland as a placename. Sometimes "Winthank". In Scotish sources the name is given as a corruption of two Scottish gaidhlig words - Uaine - meaning a lamb and, - fanc - meaning a pen for animals. Such pens or fanks are still in use for sorting sheep or lambs. Normally of dry-stone walling around 5 feet in height, they vary in area from a few square yards to hundreds of square yards. The combined gaidhlig of ' Uaine fanc' gives 'lamb pen'. Such 'lamb pens' were relatively common within the boundaries of medieival market towns as, the lambs were seperated from the flock, fattened and, moved to such pens prior to slaughter. Such an instance can be found in Cupar, Fife, where Winthank House still stands.It is public record that a large area belonging to, and abutting the house boundary, was an area reserved for animal stock into the mid 16th century. In medieival times, a baroness referred to as baroness Unthank, lived at that place.