Wyrtig

For gardeners with a sense of history
 

OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312
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Place Names, Landscapes, and Settlement Features

Examples of Place Names with Plant Elements

Place Name Resources

 

 

 

Place names in the British Isles had their origins in many different cultures over at least two thousand years of settlement, migration, and invasion. A Celtic language, Common Brittonic, was the language of Iron Age Britain, and is found in the oldest names, often those of rivers and other bodies of water. The Romans, arriving in the first century CE, introduced a small number of Latin place names to the Isles, but Celtic names -- Cornish, Irish, Manx, Scots Gaelic, and Welsh -- continued to predominate 

 

Four hundred years later, as Roman dominion faded, new groups arrived -- Scandinavian Vikings (mostly Danish and Norse) and Anglo-Saxon settlers. They introduced place names in their own languages. Then, with the conquest of 1066, Norman-French place names begin to appear on the maps of Britain.

 

Whatever their derivation, place names in Britain usually contain, singly or in combination:

Plant names. From the perspective of garden history, it is interesting to investigate the names of plants that appear in place names. Among these examples of place names with plant elements, you'll find:

 

Apple

Barley

Bean

Beet

Berry

Brooklime

Broom

Buckbean

Burdock

Cabbage

Calendula

Chamomile

Cherry

Clover

Comfrey

Cress

Crow leek

Crocus

Dill

Elder

Fern

Flax

Garlic

Germander

Gorse

Grape

Ground ivy

Hawthorn

Hazel

Heather

Hemlock

Henbane

Holly

Hops

Horehound

Ivy

Leek

Lettuce

Madder

Mallow

Marsh gentian

Medlar

Mint

Mistletoe

Myrtle

Nettle

Oat

Parsnip

Pea

Pear

Pennyroyal

Plantain

Plum

Quickset

Ragged robin

Ramsons

Reed

Rose hip

Rosemary

Rue

Rye

Sedge

Sloe

Sorrel

Teasle

Thistle

Turnip

Verbascum 

Water arum

Wheat

Wild celery

Willow

Woad

Yew

 


Natural and settlement features often associated with plants in place names include the elements below: 

Natural features found in association with plants in place names

Term

Meaning

Place names and etymologies

Translation

Broc

Small stream, brook, from Old English

Billbrook

Bilrebroc, from byllerne, watercress

Watercress Brook

Burg Hill, mound Lesbury, from Lceburg, lce, physician Physician's hill

Burna, byrn

Large stream, small river, from Saxon brunna, primarily used from 8th century on

Calbourne

From Cawelburne, cawel, cabbage, colewort

Cabbage stream

Cnol, Knol

Hilltop, from Old English

Bincknoll

From Biencnoll

Bean hilltop

Coed

Wood, from Welsh

Marchwood

From Merceode,

Merece, smallage

Smallage wood

Coille

Forest, from Scots Gaelic

Kilgordon

Geuiridiny, parsnips

Parsnip woods
 

Combe, cumbe

Short, bowl- or trough-like valley; OE, from Celtic

Barcombe

Bere, barley

Barley valley

Dl

Valley, dale, portion, from Old English

Arundel

Harhune, horehound

Horehound valley

Dene, Denu

Long, steep-sided valley, from Old English

Croydon

From Crogedene, croh, crocus

Crocus valley

Dn

Mountain, hill, down, from Old English; used before 730 CE

Elingdon

From Ellendun, ellern, elder

Eldertree hill

Eg

Island, promontory, dry ground surrounded by wetlands, well-watered land, from Old English; used before 730 CE

Pusey

From Pesei

Pea Island

 

Feld

Treeless pasture, plain; later an enclosed plot, from Old English; used before 730 CE

Dockenfield

From Doccehenefeld,

docce, sorrell

Sorrel plain

 

Ford

Ford, water crossing, from Old English; used before 730 CE

Barford

From Bereford, bere, barley

Barley ford

Grafa, graua

Grove

Kresgrave

From Cressegraua, 
caerse, cress

Cress grove

Halh

Dry ground in marsh; a nook projecting from or detached from the main unit; a secret or isolated place, Old English

Wirral

From Wirhealuml wir, myrtle

Myrtle nook

Hamm

Location hemmed in, often by water or marsh, from Old English, used before 730 CE

Kingsholm

From Cyniges hamm

King's water meadow

Hangr

A meadow or grassplot, usually by the side of a road; the village green, from Old Norse

Binegar

From Benhangre, ben, bean

Bean meadow

Hlw, hlaw

Mound, rising ground, hill, burial mound, from Old English

Taplow
Personal name, Tppa

Tppa's mound

Holt

Wood, from Old English

Ramsholt

From Ramesholt, hramsa, wild garlic

Wild garlic wood

Hop

Remote valley; raised or enclosed land in the midst of wetland or wilderness, from Old English

Kershope

Creshope, caerse, cress

 

Cress hill

Hrycg

Ridge, from Old English

Loughrigg

From Laukhrigge, lauk, leek

Leek ridge

Hyll

Hill, from Old English, used from 8th century on

Odell

From Wadehelle, wade, woad

Woad hill

Hyrst

Wooded hill, OE

Holdenhurst

Holehest, holegn, holly

Holly hill,

 

Land

Field, from Old English

Lawkland

From Laukeland, lauk, leek

Leek field

 

Leah

Woods, then a clearing in woods, meadow, open space, from Old English, used before 730 CE

Betteley

From Betellea, bete, beet

Beet clearing

Mersc

Marsh, from Old English

Peasemarsh

From Pisamerse, pis, pea

Pea marsh

Mere

Pond, pool, lake, from Old English

Peasemore

From Pesemere, pis, pea

Pea pond

Sceat

Strip of land, from Old English

Spurshot

From Purisute, pirige, pear

Pear strip

Shaw, sag

Thicket, from Old English

Appleshaw

From Appelsag, sceaga, thicket

Apple thicket

Weald, wold

High, forested ground, from Old English

Hockwold

Hocwolde, hocc, mallow

Mallow glade

 

Wella, wille

Well, spring, fountain, from Old English, used from 8th century on

Abbotskerswell

Caerse, cress

 

Abbot's cress spring

 
 

Some common settlement features
found in association with plants in place names

 

The basic components of individual farmsteads tend to be fairly consistent. The house and usually some barns or sheds for crops and animals stood within a hedged or walled plot typically called a toft (although there is rich variety in regional terminology).

 

Behind the toft was an often extensive garden for pasture or vegetable cultivation and other agricultural or industrial/craft activity. The area was usually called the croft:

In a regular or planned village&8230; these tofts and crofts would be of the same size, and share common front and rear boundaries. Smaller places, or ones with a more organic form, lack this regularity but still tend to be groupings of tofts and crofts, although there are regions (like the south-west) where hamlets have farmsteads whose yards and gardens are clustered more irregularly around the dwellings.  British Heritage, Medieval Settlements

 

Many of the settlement features included in place names refer to enclosures of one sort or another;
 

Baille

By

Croft

Edisc

Feld

Gar, garrai

Garth, geard

Ham

Hamtun,
   hamstede

Haw, hay

 

Hom

Lectun

Pen

Stede

Stoc

Thorp

Toft

Tun, tunstead,

   tunsteal

Wic

Worth

 

A number of settlement names, such as burh, byrig, beri, caer, and ceaster, referred to fortified sites. Others -- aern, cot, cote, cott, saete -- referred to dwellings or other structures.
 

Term

Meaning

Place names and etymologies

Translation

cre

Cultivated land; the area a yoke of oxen could plough in a day, from Old English

Dilicar

From Dilacre, dile, dill

Dill field

rn

Building (often with a special purpose), house, hidden place

Minterne

 

Mint house

Baile

Town, from Old Irish

Ballygomartin

Baile Gharrai Mhairtin

Gharrai, garden

Martin's apple garden town

Burh, byrig, beri Fortress, castle, walled house or town; used before 730 CE Clareborough Clover fortress

By

Settlement, farmstead, from Old Norse, first used in the 9th century

Bythorne

From Bithorna

Thorn settlement

Caer

Fortress, city, from Welsh

Carleon

From Caerleion, <legionis, legions

Fortress of the legions

Ceaster

Fort built by Romans, from Latin castrum; used before 730 CE

Chichester

From Cissaceaster

Cissa's town

Cot, Cote, Cott

Cottage, small house, shelter, from Old English, used by 8th century

Bramcote

From Brunecote, brun, broom

Broom cottage

Croft

Small, enclosed arable field, often adjacent to homestead or toft, from Old English

Ruckcroft

From Rucroft, rue, rye

Rye field

Edisc

Enclosed field, from Old English

Bendish

From Benedisc

Bean field

Gar, Garrai

Garden, from Middle Irish garrdha

Garryduff

From Garrai Dubh, dubh, dark

Dark garden

Garth, geard

Enclosure, yard, garden, court, dwelling, home, region, land, fence, hedge, from Old English

Rudyard

From Rudegeard, rude, rue

Rue garden

Ge District, region; used before 730 CE    

Grf

Trench, ditch, grave, from Old English

Redgrave

From Redgraue, red, reed

Reed ditch

Haga, hg

Fence, enclosure, hedge, from Old English

Thorness

From Thornhehe

Thorn hedge

Hm, ham

Enclosed land, farm, estate, manor, dwelling, district, region, neighborhood; group of dwellings to which the arable land and pasture of the community belong;  from Old English. used before 730 CE

Galsham

From Gallecusham

Galluc, comfrey

Comfrey farm

Hamm Land in a river bend, river meadow, used before 730 CE    

Hamstede

Homestead, from Old English

Hampstead
Hamestede
Home farm

H&257;mt&363;n

Home farm, village by water meadow, from Old English

Leckhampton

Lechametone, leac, leek

Leek home farm

 

Haw, hay

Enclosure, hedge, from Old English

Goltho

From Golthawe, golde, marigold

Marigold enclosure

 

Hlinc

A bank or ridge that forms a boundary, often separating strips of arable, from Old English

Barlinch

From Bere-hlinc, bere, barley

Barley ridge

Hom

Dwelling, enclosure, land shored up by palings to protect it from flowing water, from Old English

Wretham
From Weretham, were, crosswort

Crosswort enclosure

Lectun

Vegetable or leek garden, from Old English

Letton

From Leactun, leac, leek;
tun,
enclosure

Vegetable garden

Pen

Pen, enclosure, headland, Old English

Pendock

From Penedoc, heiddiog, barley

Barley enclosure

Ste

House, farm settlement, from Old English

Blennerhasset
From blein,
steep slope  + haysaetr
Hay farm on the steep slope

Stede

Place, religious house, farm, dairy farm, estate, from Old English

Elstead

From Helestede, elle[rn], elder


Elder farm

Stc

Place, fenced enclosure, small village dependent on larger settlement nearby, from Old English

Plymstock

From Plymestocha, plyme, plum

Plum enclosure

orp

Assemblage, hamlet, village dependent on a nearby larger settlement, from Old Norse, used from 9th century on

Calthorpe

Caletorp, cal, colewort, cabbage

Cabbage village

veit

Clearing, cut place, Old Norse, used from 9th century on

Branthwaite

From Bromthweit, bram, broom

Broom clearing

Toft

Homestead, enclosed ground around a house, enclosed home-field, from Old Norse

Wibtoft

From Vibbatoft, name Vibbi

Vibbi's homestead

Tn

Enclosed ground, yard, farmstead; enclosed land around a single dwelling; an estate, village, town, from Old English, used from 8th century on

Worton

Wrtona, wort, plant

Vegetable farm

Tunsted

Farm, village, from Old English

Tunesteda Farmstead

Tunsteal

Homestead, farm yard, from Old English

Whittonstall

From Quictunstall,

cwic, quick

Homestead with quickset hedge of hazel, hawthorne

Wc

Dwelling-place, residence, specialized farm, often used in combination with words for products; from Old English, used before 730 CE

Salwick

Saleuuic, salh, willow

Willow village

Wor, weor, wur, etc.

Enclosed homestead, habitation with surrounding land, place enclosed by buildings, from Old English; used from 8th century on

Clatworthy

Clatwurthi, cl&257;te, burdock

Burdock farm

 

 

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