Mark’s History: The possible origin of streets called Butt/Butts

Butt Lane, Farnley. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Words/photos: Mark Stevenson

Butt/Butts is a fairly common street name. I’m fairly certain it’s not a name used to remember someone’s backside, but it could be a name used to remember something much older from the past.

There is a Butts Court in town that is thought to be the site of the ancient archery butts.

The first Medieval Archery Law was passed in 1252 when all Englishmen between the age of 15 to 60 years of age were ordered, by Law, to equip themselves with a bow and arrows.

The second Archery Law of 1363 made it obligatory for Englishmen to practise their skills with the longbow every Sunday.

Butts Mount Armley
Butts Mount in Armley. Photo: Mark Stevenson

The place where people would go to practice was called the Butts, usually located on the outskirts of villages or towns on common land to keep accidents down. There are at least 12 other places across Leeds with Butts in the name. 

We have a Butts Mount in Armley, which was once the site of Butts Grove Cottage and Butts Grove on the outskirts of the village.

Then there is Butt Lane in Farnley, again on the outskirts of the village. Armley and Farnley once had (Farnley still does) halls where the Lord of the Manor lived; both Lords would have been called upon to supply men for the King/Queen when war was at hand.


  1. This is interesting. My father used to work in Butts Court in Town and as a young school girl he used occasionally to have to child-mind me at work. I loved every minute of it. I never thought of its name’s origin

  2. There is a Two Butt Lane in Rainhill, Prescot, Merseyside- it has some old houses in but isn’t coming up in any census before 1939 register which is baffling me – a bit of googling the history brought me here! Surprised I can find no local information so I’ll have to search a little more. This is interesting though – thank you!


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