Field & Other Names from some Somerset Documents
from some Somerset Documents
[AS means Anglo-Saxon]
Originally meant one of the strips of ploughland in a 'furlong'. (q.v.)
Dialectical form of Alder.
One of the numerous field-names signifying bad land.
Derived from two AS terms, baec, which are accidentally similar. (1) 'Ridge': (2) 'intermittent stream'. The former is the prevailing meaning in Somerset.
Bear- Beer- Bere
'Woodland producing acorns and beechnuts on which swine could be pastured'.
May refer to the colour of soil; but refers more frequently to its badness.
'Bridge', e.g. Stonebow.
Bovate or Oxgang
A single Bovine or Ox
An eighth of a carucate or 15 acres.
Means sometimes 'Bird Spring'.
In compounds represents generally the AS brun, 'brown'.
The corn marigold.
A small enclosure.
May imply the existence of, present or former barrow or camp.
See last. Came in comparatively late time to imply merely an enclosure.
A plough team of eight oxen.
Land for one Caruca equivalent to 120 acres.
Where these go back to an ancient date they generally imply the remains of a Roman villa.
Chessil- Chissel- Chizel
A gate that shuts on two posts joined by a bar to a third post.
A name much more common than would appear from the small-scale ordnance maps. Refers probably to a ruined dwelling. There is no reason to connect it especially with buildings of Roman date. The idea that it is only common in the neighbourhood of Roman roads is a mistaken one. No term resembling it either in form or meaning is found in the AS charters.
Probably the AS. coppede, applied to that which has its top apparently or really cut off, e.g. a pollarded tree or a flat topped hill.
That which stands up straight on the head of anything; e.g. hair on the head. Perhaps refers to stiff grass in a field.
|Cottar||An 'unfree' peasant, with either a garden or up to five acres (two hectares) of land, probably living in a cottage away from the village.|
A hurdle made of twisted withies or hazel. Used in former days to keep the cattle off the arable land while the crops were still on it. They were removed after the crops had been harvested.
Either an old plural of or an adjective derived from Crate..
Appears in the form crawt or crawte in the field-names of Selborne, Hampshire, but nowhere else in that county.
The field thus named has a quarry in it, which shows that the word is derived from the AS crundel, a quarry of irregular shape.
A not uncommon field-name in the southern counties. May indicate that the damson was grown on the ground.
|Demesne||Property farmed by its owner that had not been let to a sub-tenant.|
Dialectic for 'thistle'.
The plant called the cat's tail, and quarries in which it grows.
Not, as stated in some dictionaries, the strips of the 'common field'; but pieces of land, generally of the 'mead', which were in some communities allotted each year to members of the community by the drawing of lots.
May refer to a hill; may refer to the brown colour of ground.
Like another field-name Farthing, which means the fourth part of something, especially of a hide, virgate, or acre.
|Farm||In Domesday England this did not refer to an area of agricultural production as it does today. It was a term used to mean a fixed annual rent paid to the King who allowed him to take whatever he could from the asset he rented, which may be a borough or an estate.|
An enclosure on the edge of a village or town.
Meaning not known
Land with brushwood on it.
Came to be applied to groups of strips of the ploughland of the village community. All the strips in one furlong were, in the south of England, left fallow once in every three years.
Garston- Garstone- Gasson-Gaton
'Grass field or enclosure'.
'Valley with a gate in it'.
|Geld||A National Tax, the usual rate of which was two shillings per hide.|
A triangular piece of ploughland originally. Might be applied in modern times to any field of triangular shape.
A term found frequently in parishes of the south of England; but very rarely occurring more than once in the same parish. It probably had a technical meaning.
A hollow in a hillside. Occurs frequently near rivers and streams because they have a tendency to cut into the sides of their valleys.
Generally from AS. hamm, an enclosure; but sometimes from AS ham, a house. May be found anywhere with the former of the two meanings; but is most frequent near steams. This is because in late AS times and later the tendency was to divide up the meads, which had originally been held in common by the holders in the village community, into private allotments held in severalty, which the allotees fenced in. Meads were always near streams.
Originally a peculiarly strong kind of fence used to keep game and swine within the woodlands, and to prevent them from straying on to cultivated land. Came apparently to be used of the woodlands themselves that were so fenced. Haw seems to apply to a fence only.
A diminutive from the AS. haec, a word used with the meaning of hatchgate, i.e. a wicket-gate or half-door, such as often divide parishes or manors; but used sometimes of a sluice gate in a weir.
May be used as a noun or adjective. Implies in either case a field on a hillside.
Appears in modern place-names that contained the AS. hege, 'Hedge'. Modern form probably due to the French 'Haie'.
In most cases implies to L-shaped field or wood.
Besides being a female bird, seems to mean a waterfowl, especially a water hen.
From AS. hyrne, 'Angle', 'Corner'.
A family land holding. Used as a synonym for 'hide', indicating a homestead.
|Hide||Unit of Tax (Geld) assessment of an estate (varied from county to county) - similar to modern rateable values. Reckoned to be for about 120 acres.|
A very common element in field-names in south England. Has various meanings: (1) a piece of land on a slope; (2) land tilled every year; (3) a projecting corner, point, or spit of land. The latter is probably its ordinary meaning in field-names.
Adjective from Hook.
|Hundred||Unit of local government between the county and manor in sized. Called 'Wapentakes' in the North of England.|
For some inexplicable reason the AS. hangra, 'a handing wood', frequently takes the form Hunger- when compounded with 'ford'.
All of these seem both in Somerset and in other southern counties to be a curious series of which Inwicks is the original form. They would apply to diary farmsteads that were near the house of the owner.
Derived from a pair of oxen, which made up a quarter of the normal plough team.
A slow-flowing stream. Still used as an independent term in Hants. Otherwise hardly ever survives except in composition: e.g. Stanlake.
Seems to have always implied ploughland. Probably the 'land' of most of the present field-names is a survival of that use.
The 'yellow flag or iris'.
Variant of launde, an open space in a wood.
A long, narrow meadow, generally running out of a larger piece.
Probably a variant of the Somerset dialect word 'lintorm' - Lintel of a door.
A shelf of ploughland of the side of a hill formed by ploughing in such a way that the clods are turned down the slope. A common feature of AS. times when the area under the plough was very large. Some may be due to the very extensive ploughing of the post-Napoleonic period.
Lypeat or Lypeate
'Leap gate'. A gate of an enclosure so constructed that it would be easy for a deer or some such wild animal to leap over it into the enclosure, but not out of it. Such gates would probably be found mostly in haga's. (See 'Haw').
This element in modern names often represents the AS. maene, 'common', applied to land on which all the holders in the village community had rights.
In the days before grass seeds were obtainable this was the only hay land of the community. It consisted always of land near streams, since that was the only kind of land on which hay grew in any quantity.
All three terms represent either the AS. maere, a balk of a ploughland, or mere, 'pond'. In Berks field-names we find mereway applied to accommodation roads running long the lines of the former balks of ploughland.
A 'maze'. Probably a reference to land with numerous bushes on it.
Possibly a diminutive of Nash, i.e. at ten asshe, 'at the ash tree'.
As a first element in a name, AS. ofer, 'upper'. As a final element, AS. ofer, 'bank' or 'hillside'.
May perhaps refer to the good qualities of a piece of land. But sometimes due to the fact that a field was used for the growth of a seed called 'paradise', which was introduced into this country from N. Africa in late mediaeval times. One area in Burnham Somerset is named so.
An enclosure one angle of which at least, is acute.
'Having an acute angle'.
Probably implies a road leading to the nearest market.
Probably derived from AS puca, 'goblin'.
|Rhine/Rhyne||The Somerset description of the drainage ditches ordered to be dug by the Glastonbury Monks to drain the Somerset Levels. These Rhines were in places very deep and wide with the water flow being controlled by sluices of various designs.|
A way cut through a wood. In Yorkshire it is a division of land.
Meaning not known.
Very uncertain. Possibly applied to land on which coarse grass grows.
A very common field-name in the south of England. From actual cases of its use in Hampshire, it would seem to be applied to fields that have a copse in the middle of them, or to fields that have a belt of woodland round them.
Line or belt of trees planted as a wind shelter. Cf. AS. raewe, hegeraewe, 'hedgerow'.
Variant form of 'ridge'.
'Sieve' or 'Strainer'.
Implies something, which is cut, or cut off. A shard gate is a gap cut in a hedge to permit the passage of carts. Applied to fields it implies probably one, which has been cut off from another after having been originally part of it. Also used to describes certain archaeological finds.
A crop of grass.
A very common field-name in Hampshire although its meaning is not clear. Is perhaps a variant of 'shoot', which means a field or a road running downhill.
Perhaps refers to thin or poor soil.
Very common as a field-name in Hampshire Berkshire, and Essex. Sometimes means a detached piece of land. But the term seems to have acquired some wider meaning in modern times. Very common in some parishes, and very rare or non-existent in others. Possibly a later meaning of the term is land which has been hedged or marked off in some way from neighbouring land from which is was previously undivided. It is also possible that this noun may be connected with the verb 'to shoot', which is quite commonly used in Berkshire field-names in such forms as 'Furlong shooting on Orchard', which means a piece of ploughland running down to an orchard.
A shovel. May also refer to the shape of a field.
Variant of 'Shoot', which means a field or road running down hill. 'Shute' is the form commonly used in the Isle of Wight, whereas 'Shoot' is that commonly found on the mainland of Hampshire. It is also found in Somerset.
Can mean 'slippery' or 'sliding' as well as the lower cotton holder in a sewing machine
Applied to fields, which run length-wise along a slope.
A rough shed.
A sheep pasture.
|Soke||An area within which the King had granted to a church or Baron the right to try cases which would normally be heard in the King's Courts. The owner of the Soke also received the fines collected.|
|Sokeman||Middle class peasant, similar to a freeman, but more closely tied to his holding. He lay in the Soke of a Lord, to whom he made customary payments.|
Very common in Berkshire, implies poor land.
'Tongue of land between streams'. A peninsular of land in Somerset is named as such.
A right of pasturage.
The land between two furrows of a ploughed field. In the Isle of Wight it means a rood of land.
N.B. The original acre was a strip of ploughland 22yds by 220yds. The furrows were 51/2yds apart, therefore the area of a strip between two furrows was one rood.
A long narrow piece of land.
In compounds means a horsefold.
'Separate'. Seems to be applied to pieces of land, which are in individual ownership.
'Transverse', 'Crosswise', 'Oblique'. Often applied to a ploughland, the furrows of which are not parallel to those of neighbouring lands.
Probably connected with the Somerset dialectical 'thongy', which means 'viscid'. Applied perhaps to fields with sticky soil
A hedged enclosure.
Possibly means 'Twin Ditches'.
In compounds, seems to imply generally ground on which wode grew.
Dialectic form of 'worth'? but more usually described certain areas of enclosed land.
Originally the common dairy farm of the village community, where butter and cheese were made and the cattle were kept in the winter season. Had to be near the mead of the community, i.e. near the hay land. Consequently 'Wicks' are nearly always in the neighbourhood of streams. In later times when the meads of many communities were divided up in several ownerships the tendency was for individual owners to set up their own 'Wicks'.
AS. weorth, wyrth
In compounds this AS term is nearly always compounded with a personal name in the possessive case, hardly ever with a descriptive term. This shows that Worths were originally a class of farm, which was in some sense the subject of private ownership. It is probable that Worths were farms or cultivated lands carved out of the waste left over after the first settlers in a district had taken up the ploughland, which they could cultivate. This new cultivation would be enclosed in some way in order to keep animals off it. Hence the term may in later times have come to be used of rather large enclosures.
AS. weorthig, wyrthig
This AS term is a diminutive of weorth. Some modern writers, however, have supposed that it came to be used in the West of England as synonymous of that term. Worth is by no means a common field-name in the southern counties proper; whereas Worthy is a common field-name in Somerset. Generally speaking Worthy is a field-name, and Worth a place or farm name.
It may be conjectured that while Worth was applied to the comparatively large area of the cultivated land of an isolated farm, Worthy was applied to some areas like a modern field carved out of former wasteland and enclosed.
'Gate'. It is sometimes stated that at a certain period in middle English this 'y' spelling super
Derived from a pair of oxen, which made up a quarter of the normal plough team.
1. "The proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological Society"
2. Burnham-on-Sea Somerset Reference Library.
3. The Somerset Studies Library at Taunton.
4. The Somerset Record Office at Taunton.
5. Guy Etchells email@example.com
6. The Children's Book of Domesday England
Page Last Updated: - 06/04/2016