Keys to the Past


Starting with I - 19 Glossary entries found.

In this section of the website you can find out more about specialist and technical terms archaeologists sometimes use. There is also lots more information about famous people and historic events in the north-east.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Z 1-9

Icehouse; Ice house

An underground chamber, sometimes egg- or cylinder-shaped, where winter ice was stored. This would allow the preservation of meat and dairy produce, spirits and wines in the cooled environment all year. They are frequently found in the grounds of country houses and may date from the 18th century at Wallington, Northumberland. Commercial icehouses also operated at ports that dealt with fish that was caught locally, before delivery with ice to other areas of the country, as at Berwick upon Tweed for Salmon.


The deliberate destruction of religious icons (statues and relics) thought to offend. This took place in the Reformation and probably other periods, such as the Roman.

Ignatius Bonomi

See Bonomi, Ignatius b1787 d1870 An English architect, son of Joseph Bonomi who worked on Lambton Hall. He worked in the Gothic and Neo-Classical styles.


Improved land near farm buildings.

Incense cup; Incense-cup

A small decorated pottery vessel found with Bronze Age burials. It is not clear what their function was since holes in the side would allow any liquids to escape. The idea of incense has been suggested in a way similar to an incense burner.


A waggonway might need unavoidably to slope in the absence of any cutting or to reach staithes. This section is called an incline. Wagons would be need to run up or down it. Gravity could be employed on the downhill slopes. To assist horses used stationary winding engines were employed to haul the wagons up slopes - lowering the other wagons safely. Alternatively use of ropes or cables allowed those wagons going down a slope to pull other wagons up by gravity alone, called self-acting inclines. These mechanisms were introduced from the 1750s AD.

Industrial Revolution

See Overviews for details.


Arable and manured land kept continually under crop; distinguished from outfield.


The part of a monastery or abbey where the sick were cared for. The word is also used to describe later medical centres or hospitals.


A human burial where bones are articulated and have not been burnt. The body may be in a variety of positions; such as laid on the back, side, crouched and so on. In the Iron Age it was common for crouched burials as at West Chevington, (Northumberland). Since the Roman period most inhumations have been on the back.

Inner ward

Also known as the inner bailey. The inner defended area of a castle. Access would often be through a fortified or defended gate. Some castles also had an outer defended ward.

Inscribed stone

Stone that has been inscribed for some purpose. Inscribed stones could be religious - e.g. a Roman altar stone, or commemorative, e.g. gravestones, or a combination, or as a dedication, e.g. a Roman milecastle or centurial stone. (See more specific entries under altar and centurial stone). Where inscribed stones were regular features at Roman milecastles as on Hadrian's Wall these might be carved in wood where there was no stone.


See inbye.

Interlace design; Interlace pattern

Design where motifs appear to go under and above other bits of the design. Such designs are commonly found on Anglo-Saxon crosses, e.g. the font bass at Rothbury parish church, Northumberland.


Form of Classical architecture - the influence comes from Ancient Greece. This involved stone columns deeply scored with vertical lines around its outer edge and topped with a capital of opposing spirals. An example of Ionic style is Belsay Hall, Northumberland.

Iron Age


Iron Foundry

See foundry.

Ironstone; Iron stone

(FeOOH, Fe2O3, Fe3O4, FeCO3)
General term for the minerals that can be smelted to produce the metal Iron (Fe). This covers a range of types that may exist as iron oxides, hydroxides and carbonates. It may be found in veins or as layers in marshes. This latter type is called bog ore.


The Italianate style developed in England out of the picturesque movement of the 1840s - a rebellion against the formal classical styles that had dominated art and architecture for the previous 200 years. A reinterpretation of Italian Renaissance country villas.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Z 1-9