Place Names as Edible EncyclopediaBook now
Monday 13 September 2021, 2pm
Place names were used to rapidly and succinctly inform language-users about places: what kind of place it was (e.g. a town, cliff, or forest), and what characterised that place (e.g. who owned it, what lived there, or what it looked like). One of the most common motivators for naming places – especially smaller ones – was their usefulness for inhabitants of the area. They could indicate places for profitable foraging (e.g. Bramshott, brembels-sceat, ‘an area with blackberries’), the best spots for grazing your animals (e.g. the Sombornes deriving from swin-burn, ‘stream for swine’), tried-and-tested hunting grounds (e.g. Durley, deor-leah, ‘a clearing in the woods with deer’), or placed with specialised infrastructure (e.g. Beauworth, beo-wyrð ‘settlement for [the keeping of] bees’). Similarly, they could identify places that should be avoided or not used for agriculture (e.g. place-names mentioning ‘wolves’ and the now-lost wyvelesden ‘lair of weevils’).
Dr Eric Lacey discusses how the distribution and nature of these names give us an insight into the way that the landscape was used in Hampshire in the past, and what it tells us about the way hunting, foraging, and farming were conducted. He also discussed how looking at these place names in their contexts can retrieve information that we would otherwise have lost – such as the presence of lower-class falconers, and the nuances of hunting practices.
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