PLACE NAMES: (850 - 1066 AD)



Although we often think of the Vikings for their 'raping & pillaging', they may well have had an axe to kill in one hand, but in the other was a spade to till the soil they settled. 
The Christian Saxon King Edmund went to meet the invading Vikings (Danes) in 870 AD to seek peace - so one version of history goes. They tortured him to death. The town named after him today is Bury St.Edmunds. Also the word Berserk has a fascinating etymology

Worshippers in churches throughout Christian Europe added to their prayers "from the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord, deliver us!". It was a time of terror for civilized and settled England.

The Viking axe not only felled their enemies, but large areas of England's thick woodlands. A clearing in a wood they called a

  • -LEIGH / -LEE or -LY:

Thus hundreds of place-names end this way:

  • STAVELEY, Derbyshire where long, thin staves were cleared / Dingley, Northants. there was a hollow or dingle in the woods / Honiley, Warwickshire where wild bees stored their honey - a precious item in the days before sugar beet/cane / Thorsley -  in honour of God Thor / Batley / Barnsley / Stokesley / Bingley / Keighley 

-BY (farmstead):

  • Whitby / Selby / Grimsby / Rugby / Derby / Kexby / Thorganby / Corby / Sowerby / Romanby = from Hromundr / Frankby, Cheshire = from Franki

-THORPE = secondary / outlying farm these were added to an owner's name who had chosen that place of settlement:

  • Grimethorpe from Grimr / Scunthorpe = from Skuma (squint-eyed leader?) / Oglethorpe = from Odkell / Fridaythorpe after Frigga

-DALE valley:

  • Kirkdale / Wharfedale

-TOFT = site of a house:

  • Langtoft / Lowestoft

FLEET = fleet:

  • Purfleet / Broomfleet

-KIRK = church:

Falkirk / Kirkella / Falkirk / Kirkcaldy

-THWAITE clearing in the woods:

  • Bassenthwaite / Braithwaite / Gawthwaite

-HOLME = small island or land at the bend of a river:

  • Bransholme / Killingholme

One example of a Viking settlement replacing a Saxon one was NORTHWORTHY which became DERBY meaning 'A place where deer are found'. Derbyshire is one of the few counties named after the Vikings. What about Yorkshire?

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