Sunday, June 26, 2022

Place Names in Dodderhill

Place-names are formed by the people who live in, or have come into, an area, using the language they speak at the time. The study of place-names is therefore usually carried out by experts in these languages, and for English place-names this requires knowledge of Old English, Middle English, Old Norse, and mediaeval French. Recently place-name studies and archaeological work have been able to mutually benefit each other, with place-names giving possible locations of archaeological remains, and archaeological discoveries reinforcing theories about, for example, a place-name indicating Roman occupation.

In Worcestershire, as in all of England and Wales, the language spoken was a British Celtic one (very similar to Welsh) from the Iron Age until after the coming of the Anglo-Saxons. The only Latin or British name known for the county which dates from the Romano-British period is ‘Salinae’ (salt-workings), the name used for the place that was later called Droitwich. From the later 6th century AD Angles and Saxons moved into this area, and most of the names in use today are those formed by the Anglo-Saxons. It is likely that while some of these names represent new settlement sites, others are re-naming in English of sites already occupied by the native British which would have had British names.

Modern name Older versions & date if known Meaning & Comments
Astwood Estw°d(e) 1086+, Astwood 1190, Astwode 1242, Astwude 1270, Estwood 1280 East wood
Body Brook Bottebroc 1280, Bottybroke 1456 Second part is ‘broc’, brook or stream; first part may be the personal name Botta (recorded around 700), so Botta’s brook. ‘broc’ names are not recorded before AD 730.
Causeway Meadows Farm Corsey Meadow Farm 1563 Possibly indicates marshy land (where a causeway was needed).
Crutch Cric, Croc, Croice, Cruc(e), Cruchia, Cruch 1178, Crouche 1538+ Natural hill, small and abrupt in shape From British ‘crug’ which was adopted by early English speakers, so may indicate continuing presence of British language speakers after arrival of Anglo-Saxons.
Dodderhill Dudrenhull 1096+, Dudrenhulla 1175, Doderhull 13thC, Duderhull 14thC, Doderhull 1301+, Dodderhull 1332+, Dodurhull 1456, Duderhill 1542+ ‘Dodder’ is a parasitic plant also known as ‘cuscuta’ , plus ‘hill’, so hill where ‘dodder’ grows; or the first part could derive from the personal name Dudda, recorded in the late 700s as a Mercian leader who owned land in Worcestershire, so the meaning would be ‘Dudda’s hill’. There are linguistic problems with both derivations and an original personal name ‘Dudra’ or plant name ‘dodra’ is required, neither of which is recorded.
Ford Forde 1280, Fourde 1398, Fowurde 1525, Forde 1576, The Furde 1602 Presumably refers to a fording place on the River Salwarpe.
Helpridge Farm now Wyken Farm Helperic brine pit in Droitwich, 1086, Helpriche 1538, Helpridge 1576 ‘Ric’ means ‘strip’. There is an Old English personal name ‘Helperic’ meaning helpful. It is not thought likely that the current location of Helpridge Farm was the brine pit mentioned in Domesday Book – these pits were all in the Vines Park area of Droitwich.
Henbrook ‘hens broc’ in boundary clause of charter of 770, Hennebroc 1201 ‘Hens brook’, stream where moorhens lived. Other place-names are known with animal names plus brook; ‘broc’ names are not recorded before AD 730.
Hobden Hall Obeden 1375, Abdon 1558, Obden 1613, 1649, Hobdon 1772+ ‘Dun’ is a flat-topped low hill, with a summit suitable for a settlement site, which matches the topography here. ‘Dun’ can later become ‘don’ in place-names. The first part could be the personal name Oba, recorded in the mid 700s as a Mercian leader who witnessed two charters relating to salt works in Droitwich, so the name would be ‘Oba’s hill settlement’. ‘Dun’ names are thought in some cases to be used for a site already occupied when the Anglo-Saxons arrived.
Holloway Farm, now Yewtree Farm Le Holewey 1280, Howl Way 1567 Presumably refers to a sunken path/road, resulting from animals being driven along it. [‘Holan weg’ is the name given in the charter dated 770 to the Roman road which crosses Piper’s Hill going from NNW to SSE and joins the Roman road from Droitwich to Alcester – presumably another hollow way.]
Huntingdrop/trap/thorpe Huntingthrop 1271, Huntindrop(e) 1300+, Hountingthrope 1398,Huntingthorp 1550 The first part could refer to hunting/huntsmen, and this area was in Feckenham forest which goes back to pre-Norman times; or this could be derived from a personal name ‘Hunta’, recorded in the mid 700s. ‘thorpe’ indicates a secondary settlement site, so Hunta’s settlement.
Impney Ymeneia, Imenea, Imeneye/Ymeneye 1176-1212 & 1280, Imeney(e) 1456, Ymney 1522, Impney 1658 ‘Imma’s island’, from personal name ’Imma’ plus ‘eg’, island or raised ground in wet country. The name ‘Imma’ is recorded in the 8th century as existing in AD 679, and ‘eg’ names are more commonly recorded before AD 730.
Kingsland Hill Farm Kingeslaunde 1271, Kyngeslonde, Kingeslonde 1275+, Kyngelonde 1280, Kyngesloue 1327 The spelling indicates the last part is ‘launde’, glade in a forest, rather than land, which fits with the area having been within Feckenham Forest up to the 13th century. The first part may indicate royal ownership at some past time.
Leather Bridge Letherenbruge 1229, Lethernebrugge 1300, Leathorne Bridge 1635 There is a theory that the name derives from Welsh ‘llethr hir’, long slope, a good description of the ground going northeast from the bridge; this would have been transformed to an alternative word (leather) which the Anglo-Saxons understood, which was attached to the nearby bridge built over the River Salwarpe. However no Welsh names [which date from the mid-500s AD] are known this far east, and the earlier British equivalent would have the word order reversed, making it less likely that this could develop into ‘leather’. It is therefore suggested that the structure of the bridge itself included some use of leather. A possible alternative is that tanned leather products were carried north over the bridge (there was a tannery in Droitwich in the 9th/10th centuries) – but that could have applied to other bridges.
Piper’s Hill Previously referred in a charter of 770 as ‘langan dune’ ‘Long hill’ (suitable for settlement as flat-topped) – a good description of this area, which is also known as Dodderhill Common, shared with Hanbury and Stoke Prior parishes.
Pridzor Prudesouere 1270, Prudesore 1456 Second part is from ‘ofer’, flat-topped ridge with a convex shoulder; first part may be an unrecorded personal name Prud, so ‘Prud’s ridge’. This would have been a visible landmark for anyone approaching from the south, east or north, and the Roman road through Dodderhill into Droitwich passes close by; other ‘ofer’ names are often near major routeways in this area (such as Hadzor).
Rashwood Eshide 1221, Aschide 1227, Esside, Esyda 1300+, Raschehede 1535, Rasshid 1550, Rash(e)wood 1581+ ‘Ash hide’, from ‘aesc’ (ash), meaning an area of ash trees which generated a set taxable income; the name acquired the initial ‘R’ later on, and the second part was changed to ‘wood’ because this made more sense to people in the 16th century.
Ridgeway, The   Ridgeway refers to the pre-Roman route which runs to the north and parallel with the road to Bromsgrove.
Sagebury Farm Savagebure 1275, Savagebur’ 1280, Savageburi 1350, Savegesbury 1431, Sagebury/Sageburie 13thC, 1550, 1561 Savage is the name of the family who owned the estate from the 13th to 15th centuries; bury refers to a defended place such as a manor house.
Sharpway Gate ‘sceap weg’ in boundary clause of charter of 770, also spelled ‘scearp weg’ ‘Scarp/steep way’, the track ascending Piper’s Hill from Wychbold. Sharpway was and is the boundary between Dodderhill and Stoke Prior parishes.
Walkmills Farm Walk Mill 1474 Walkmill is the name of a mill on the Salwarpe which processed cloth by ‘fulling’ it, using water-powered fulling stocks rather than human feet to pound or ‘walk’ the cloth.
Westwood Westwuda 972 ‘Wood to the west’ (of Droitwich)
Withy Furlong Farm   Withy refers to flexible strips of wood, possibly willow or hazel. Furlong refers to the size of the field(s) in which this was grown.
Wychbold Wicbold 692, Wicelbold 1086, Wichebald 1160, Wychingbald 1275, Wichebaud 1275, Whichebaud 1276, Wichebald 1280, Wychebaut 1280, Wychebaud 1327, Wychebaude 1524, Wychebould 1603 ‘Wic’ is the name of Droitwich at this time, meaning a trading centre (for salt); ‘bold’ is a great hall, so ‘great hall at/near Wic’. The name originally refers to the Anglo-Saxon ‘villa regalis’, royal residence, and to the land unit centred on it. It is likely that the villa was located near the Droitwich brine wells, but its site is not thought to have been the same as the present village of Wychbold. From 1086 (Domesday Book) onwards, the name refers to the land unit.
Wyken Farm   See Helpridge
Yewtree Farm   See Holloway Farm

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