Drawings of Anglo-Saxons

ANGLO-SAXON DISCOVERY

Drawings of objects

Anglo-Saxon Place Names

Drawing by Alexandra age 8
Alexandra age 8

Many of the place-names used in England today were first used by the Anglo-Saxons. This is one of the ways we can tell where the Anglo-Saxons lived.

Some place-names have changed over time since the Anglo-Saxons spoke a different version of English than we do today.

(Find out more about the language of the Anglo-Saxons)

It is possible to tell if a place was named by the Anglo-Saxons from certain Old English words which appear in place names. These words have different meanings.

For example:

  Modern place-name Oxford
  Old English place-name Oxnaford
 
Word
Meaning
 
ford
a place where a river can be crossed
 
oxna
Old English word for oxen
 
Oxford
the place where oxen cross the river

Can you recognise these Old English place names?

Click on the Old English name to reveal the modern place-name

Here are a few examples of Old English words which can be found in modern place-names.
Old English Word
Meaning
Example of Modern Place-name in Oxfordshire
barrow
wood
Barrow Hill
burh (modern word - borough)
fortified town
Long Hanborough
burn
stream
Shirburn
bury
fortified place
Wendlebury
combe
small valley
Swyncombe
cot
small hut / house
Rycot
dun
hill
Duns Tew
ford
a shallow river crossing
Wallingford
ham
village
Eynsham
holt
wood
Holton
hurst
wooden hill
Chippinghurst
ing
people
Kiddlington
ley or lea
a clearing in a wood
Ditchely or Leafield
port
market town
Port Meadow
stoc/stoke
outlying farm/settlement
South Stoke
stow
meeting place or holy place
Stowood
ton or tun
house or village
Stadhampton
wick or wich (orginally wic in Old English)
farm
Hardwick
worth
fenced land
Denchworth

Look for place-names with these words in and this will tell you where the Anglo-Saxons lived. Some areas of the country have more of some place-name elements than others. For example, there are no place-names with the Old English word stead/sted in Oxfordshire, which means place.

Were there any Anglo-Saxons living near you?

Find out more about the origins of place-names

Find out about place-names in your area

Some place-names also have Viking words in them. Click HERE to find out about Viking place-names.

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