Thwaite is a very common ending for place names in the N.W. of England and points to the Norse occupation of many parts of Cumberland. It is usually explained as "A CLEARING", which is quite correct, but the word has an earlier meaning connected with "cutting" or "dividing off" — a process which usually precedes "the clearing". Before a piece of land can be "cleared" it must first of all be assigned or cut off from the larger portion.
A large number of English names originally contained a genitive case of the former part of the word, "Bassan" or "Baston" would be the regular genitive of the form "Basta" or "Bastan", hence "Bassenthwaite" would mean Bassas'thwaite or clearing, or portion.
"Bassa" is a known Anglo-Saxon name. A certain Bassa, son of Cynreow, is mentioned in an undoubtedly genuine document of the 9th century, so that it would seem fairly certain that Bassenthwaite equals Bassanthwaite — Bassa's portion.
Another authority states that the earliest form of the name of Bassenthwaite is never without a "t" and variously spelt Bastanthwaite, Bastonthwaite, Basteethwaite and the lake invariably called Bastanwater. This however, does not affect the earlier explanation of the name. The only difference is that instead of being "The thwaite of Bassa" it must have been "The thwaite of Basta".
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