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! Beginning in February, a volunteer project will be running at the Staffordshire Record Office, with support from the Institute for Name-Studies at the University of Nottingham. We’ll be running weekly research sessions, and you’ll receive support from specialists in place-name research. Whether you’re an experienced historian or someone with an interest in Staffordshire’s heritage and some time and enthusiasm to spare, we’d love you to get involved.
We’ll begin by collecting names from Pirehill Hundred, the ancient division which forms the north-west part of the county. We’ll be using different types of documents to unearth historic forms of place-names, and this research will form the basis of the EPNS survey for Staffordshire. If you’d like to get involved, contact the Staffordshire Record Office, follow the project on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.