English Place Names
I'd love some more information about place/town names. I find them really interesting, the history and changes that take place.
Rachel from Andalucia for Holidays
that's a great question! English place names are really fascinating to research. With the two thousand years of history England has seen, many different peoples have left their marks on the map.
Some of the oldest place names date back to Roman times. Any town ending -chester or -caster, such as Cirencester, Chester, Tadcaster, Doncaster, was once a Roman fortification or castra
After the Romans left, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings found England to their liking. Many Saxon place names are found along the east and south coasts of England.
The Saxons often named places after geographical features close to their homes. Towns ending in -hill, -ford, -dale, -thorn are typical.
And towns ending in -wick or -wich, such as Norwich or Ipswich, were once Anglo-Saxon trading settlements.
Christianity - saints, monasteries and nunneries - also left its mark on English place names. Bury St Edmunds is named after Edmund, the martyred king of the East Angles. And many villages and towns are named after St Mary, St Paul, St Peter or St Augustine.
After the Norman victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, another set of place names was introduced. Many villages and towns whose name start with Bel- or Beau-, meaning beautiful or fair, are Norman in origin. Well-known examples are Belvoir in Leicestershire, or Beaulieu in Hampshire.
There are some really interesting books out there if you'd like to dig a little deeper. They're the sort of books you dip into from time to time, when something catches your fancy - and you'll find that when you emerge it's much later than you thought.