2022 SNSBI autumn day conference

The autumn day conference was held at the University of Leicester on Saturday October 29. The conference, on the theme ‘Names and local history’, was in conjunction with the Centre for Regional and Local History.

1000 Bob Trubshaw: Hо̄hs and boundaries

1035 Keith Briggs: Some more Scandinavian elements in Suffolk place-names

1120 Angela Muir: Mapping place and identity in early modern and industrialising Wales

1140 Alasdair C. Whyte: The place-names of Muile~Mull, Ulbha~Ulva and surrounding smaller islands in the Inner Hebrides

1315 Simon Draper: Local history and personal names in medieval Oxfordshire

1350 Hasan Hasan: A commemorative hydronym: a reminder of local history

1425 Richard Jones: Washed away? Preservation and loss of medieval watery names in Alrewas, Staffordshire

Hо̄hs and boundaries, Bob Trubshaw

A number of hо̄h place-names are on the boundary between the land and sea, such as Hoo St Werburg (Kent), Hooton and Thornton Hough (Wirral), Lancing Hoe (Sussex), Mortehoe, and Plymouth Hoe (both Devon). A similar number are situated on county boundaries, including Aynho (Oxfordshire-Northamptonshire), Tysoe (Oxfordshire-Warwickshire), Luton Hoo (Bedfordshire-Hertfordshire), Ivinghoe Beacon, Buckland Hoo and Hastoe (all Buckinghamshire-Hertfordshire) and Wixhoe (Suffolk-Essex). Barrie Cox’s detailed study of the minor place-names in Leicestershire suggests that hо̄hs are also frequently located near hundredal boundaries. However this creates an unexpected complication as the distributions of hо̄hs in Leicestershire suggests that Charnwood Forest and the Leicestershire Wolds around Six Hills were ‘extra-hundredal’ at the time these hо̄h names were coined. These hо̄hs typically match Margaret Gelling’s identification of a distinctively-shaped hill. Plausibly the word hо̄h initially denoted pre-Conversion ‘boundary shrines’ located on distinctive hills. After the Conversion the ‘functional’ aspect of hо̄h was forgotten (and their function subsequently replaced by stone crosses at parish boundaries or, at harbours, with chapels to St James) and only the descriptive sense of hо̄h persisted. The possible renaming of some hо̄hs as ‘toot hills’ is tentatively considered.

Some more Scandinavian elements in Suffolk place-names, Keith Briggs

Scandinavian elements in Suffolk place-names have long been known to include a number of examples in field-names and other minor place-names, as well as those forming major settlement names. However, nearly all of these could be said to have a hybrid Anglo-Scandinavian nature, either because they incorporate an anglicized form of an Scandinavian personal name, or because they have a generic such as holm, toft, or thwaite, these being words which were borrowed into English and cannot be called purely Scandinavian. Recent work has, however, turned up a few further examples of a very different character. These names are either compounds of two purely Scandinavian elements, or are a derivatives of a purely Scandinavian word in a non-anglicized form. Moreover, they are not settlement names or field-names. The existence of these extreme rarities might be interpreted as evidence of a longer-lasting or more influential community of Scandinavian speakers in Suffolk than has usually been assumed. This talk will look at several examples, including Old Danish road-names and water-names in Suffolk.

The dictionary of Old Danish referred to in this talk is G. F. V. Lund, Det ældste danske skriftsprogs ordforråd: ordbog til de gamle danske landskabslove, de sønderjyske stadsretter samt øvrige samtidige sprogmindesmærker (fra omtr. 1200 till 1300) (The oldest Danish written-language vocabulary: dictionary of the old Danish land-laws, the south-Jutland city courts and other contemporary linguistic monuments, from about 1200 to 1300), first edition 1877, reprinted by København Universitets Fond 1967, Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzels Forlag.

Mapping place and identity in early modern and industrialising Wales, Angela Muir

This short paper explores the potential for future research into place-names in Wales using a unique and underutilised source: depositions from the Court of Great sessions in Wales. The Great Sessions were the highest criminal court in Wales between the 1540s and 1830, and operated similar to the English assizes. However, unlike the assizes, the Great Sessions have left behind a tremendous volume of narrative pre-trial depositional evidence that contains, amongst other things, rich detail about the spaces and places where crimes took place. These include the Welsh and English names of settlements, fields, farmsteads, and other locations below the level of the parish often not captured in traditional sources for geospatial analysis, such as tithe maps or gazetteers. This paper will discuss this evidence, and suggest some of the ways in which it can be used to further our understand of the social, cultural and linguistic history of Wales.

The place-names of Muile~Mull, Ulbha~Ulva and surrounding smaller islands in the Inner Hebrides, Alasdair C. Whyte

This paper presents findings from current research on the place-names of Muile~Mull, Ulbha~Ulva and surrounding smaller islands in the Inner Hebrides. The paper focusses initially on the methodological approach and discusses the range of sources from which toponymic evidence is being harvested. Sources include medieval texts, maps, songs, poems, fiction, non-fiction, folklore, oral recordings and interviews. The second part of the paper will focus on findings from recent research of archival material in the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub. The research is being conducted as part of a Lord Kelvin / Adam Smith Research Fellowship and will be published in various outputs, including volumes in the Survey of Scottish Place-Names.

Local history and personal names in medieval Oxfordshire, Simon Draper

Recent local historical research undertaken for the Victoria County History in Oxfordshire has shed unexpected new light on the origins of two current surnames (Chaundy and Merry), as well as providing a backdrop against which to set the many bynames and nascent hereditary surnames recorded in tax records between 1279 and 1327 in Langtree hundred in the south-east of the county, revealing the importance of microtopography, settlement patterns, landownership, economy and society in shaping the types and range of medieval personal names found there.

A commemorative hydronym: a reminder of local history, Hasan Hasan

This paper is the result of a study on an object of cultural value and its eponym Dr Osborn’s important role in the life of nineteeth-century Bognor (Sussex) when the name of the town was without the second component ‘Regis’. The urban area of Bognor is rich in commemorative names. They provide a reminder of people, events, and buildings with significance for the local history. This is also the case with hydronyms. The focus of this paper is the ‘Osborn Drinking Fountain’, a public drinking fountain that commemorates a person closely connected with the local community. The paper asks: who was Charles Osborn? Who erected the fountain? What are the origins of the hydronym, the eponym’s names, and the specifics of the name mentioned in the inscription (providing the main information about the fountain) as Bognor?

Washed away? Preservation and loss of medieval watery names in Alrewas, Staffs, Richard Jones

This paper tackles the knotty issue of the loss and preservation of field-names across time. Specifically, it tracks the fate of a large corpus of medieval (pre-1500) field-names collected as part of the ‘Flood and Flow’ project relating to the Trent/Tame-side manor, parish, and townships of Alrewas, Staffordshire through to the nineteenth century. In this flood-prone environment, especially attention is paid to the survival of field-names carrying indications of water or wetness, and seeks to identify the factors that might account for why some of these names proved to be resilient while others disappeared. The paper concludes that… (well, you’ll just have to wait to find out!)