Saints and Stones: English Place Names
Home Saints Stones

The names of villages, towns and cities in the UK have been given at various times in the nation's history. Some date back to Celtic-speaking times while others were given after the Roman invasion of Britain but many have also had many other conquering nations leave their mark on the names (amongst other things) of settlements. Up until around the 14th century place names were mainly influenced by the environment of the area a hill or the bend in a river, for example. Some names were made by the combination of words across the different civilisations. Many places derive part of their name from the river next to which they were built Cambridge, for example, was a bridge over the River Cam. Many place names in England have affixes denoting manorial possession in medieval times.

Celtic origins: From 800 BC the Celtic names were dominant around the British Isles. Over time the names, along with the Celts, were pushed back into Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where these names are still very common.

Aber, afon, avon, esk, eye, dee a river, river bank or river mouth
Allt, bre, drum, don, pen, bryn a hill or hillside
Caer, castell, plas a castle, fortress or palace
Capel, llan a chapel or church
Coed a wood or forest
Cwm a valley
Dinas, Ter a city, town or village
Llyn a lake
Mynydd a mountain
Pant a hollow
Pont, bont a bridge
Porth a harbour
Treath a beach
Ynys an island

Roman origins: Parts of names used until the Roman Empire withdrew from the British Isles until the 5th century.

Caster, cester, chester, caester a fort or camp
Fos, foss a ditch
Port a harbour or gate

Saxon origin: Names taken from the Saxons up until around the 11th century.

Bourne, burn, delph a stream
Burg a large village
Croft, worthy a small enclosure
Eg, ey, ea, eig an island
Ham a village
Hurst, ley, lea, riding a clearing
Ing people
Mere a pool
Moss a swamp
Stoc a summer pasture
Stoke a secondary settlement
Stow a holy place
Ton, tun, wic, wike a house, farm or group of huts
Weald high woodland
Worth, worthy fenced or enclosed area

Viking origins: Names taken from the Vikings up until around the 12th century.

Akr acre
Beck, kelda, slack a stream
Booth a summer pasture
By a farm or village
Ey, holm an island
Fell, how a hill
Fiskr fish
Gardr a landing place
Garth an enclosure
Gate a road
Gill a valley
Hus, toft a house
Ings a marsh or meadow
Kald cold
Kirk a church
Laithe a barn
Lund a grove
Melr a sandbank
Orme a serpent
Pollr a pool
Sker, stan a rock
Stakkr a rock in the sea
Stokkr sound
Tarn a lake
Thorp a secondary settlement
Thwaite a clearing in a forest
Wray a remote place

Source: Wikipedia: Place Name Origins

Top of Page