Recent place-name survey work: examples from Shropshire

This post is a summary of the talk given by Dr John Baker from the Institute for Name-Studies (University of Nottingham) at the Staffordshire Record Office on 4th February 2017.

More information about the Shropshire survey can be found on the project website.

The place-names of Shropshire


Margaret Gelling (1924-2009). Copyright Peter Gelling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

The Shropshire place-name survey has been conducted over almost sixty years, beginning in 1959. Work was begun on the collection of Shropshire’s place-names by a group of dedicated volunteers, under the watchful eye of Margaret Gelling. Gelling wrote six volumes of the English Place-Name Society survey of the county before her death in 2009, the last of which was published posthumously in 2012. The part of the county which remained to be covered was the south and part of the west, along the Welsh border.

A four-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, began in January 2013, with the aim of completing the EPNS survey of Shropshire. The project was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Name-Studies (University of Nottingham) and the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (University of Wales). The project is now complete, and the EPNS survey volumes for Shropshire will be available soon. Continue reading


The English Place-Name Society and the Study of Place-Names

This post is a summary of the talk given by Dr Jayne Carroll from the Institute for Name-Studies (University of Nottingham) at the Staffordshire Record Office on 4th February 2017.

More information on the place-names mentioned in this post can be found on the Key to English Place-Names.

The English Place-Name Survey

Portrait of Sir Frank Stenton in academic gown with a backdrop of bookshelves.

Sir Frank Stenton. Copyright the artist’s estate / Bridgeman Art Library, photo credit University of Reading Art Collection

The English Place-Name Society (EPNS) was established in 1923 with the aim of producing a county-by-county survey of the place-names of England. The first volume, an Introduction to the Survey, was published in 1924, and the survey for Buckinghamshire, written by Allen Mawer and Frank Stenton, was released a year later.

The English Place-Name Survey now has 91 volumes, with most counties in England having at least partial coverage. The earliest counties to be surveyed consisted of only a single volume, but the most recent surveys have much more detailed coverage, several with more than six volumes so far completed. The most recent counties to be surveyed contain major place-names (the names of settlements and other large features) as well as minor names (smaller landscape features, street-names and buildings) and field-names. Continue reading

About the place-name project

The study of place-names is an important part of local history, telling us about the language, society, landscape and agricultural history of the places we live. An organisation called the English Place-Name Society (EPNS) was set up in the 1920s with the aim of surveying the place-names of every county in England. The survey has so far produced 90 volumes, and is used by researchers, academics, and anyone interested in the origins, meaning, and significance of English place-names.

The EPNS survey of Staffordshire was begun by J. P. Oakden, and his first volume, covering Cuttlestone Hundred, was published in 1984. Sadly Oakden passed away soon afterwards, and the survey remained incomplete. David Horovitz has also published a book on The Place-Names of Staffordshire, based on his PhD thesis, which includes a selection of the county’s names.

Work on Staffordshire’s place-names is about to begin again, and you can get involved! Continue reading