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  • Take the Anglo-Saxon place name test
    Image: Whitby Abbey

Anglo Saxon place names

Names of towns and villages all mean something. In England, many places have Anglo Saxon names. For example; BIRMINGHAM comes from BEORMA (a person’s name) + INGA (family or tribe) + HA (homestead). So BIRMINGHAM simply means “Homestead of Beorma’s tribe.”

Here are some Anglo Saxon words and their meanings. The spellings have been simplified!

Word Meaning
ALD old
ASK ash tree
BACH stream
BAR barley
BURN stream
BEWER beaver
CARL freeman
DEN or DENE valley or hollow
FLEET creek or inlet
BURY or BOROUGH fortification
HAM homestead
HURST wooded hill
LEE, LEIGH or LEY meadow or field
MOR or MOOR wasteland
WAIN wagon
WAL or WALSH native Britons
WICK old farming settlement
STOWE important meeting place
TUN/TON village or town

Some words have survived unchanged, or been updated:- WELL, BRIDGE, SAND, FORD, STONE and NEW etc all feature in English names.

Now see if you can “translate” the following place-names. Hover over the place name for the answer.


NB: Place-names can be confusing. MOUSEHOLE in Cornwall really does mean “mousehole”, but MUCKING in Essex has nothing to do with mucking about! It means “Place of Mucca’s Tribe”.

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