Origins of English place names
English place names are a peculiar thing indeed. Over two millennium of immigration from continental Europe has seen a marked impact on the geography of the English countryside. England has been linguistically shaped by the Norman Conquest, Viking settlement, Anglo-Saxon invasion and Roman occupation. Many of the tribal place names have been lost to us and the native tongue of the occupier now describes what the land back then was. With every successive new immigration we had a different way to describe the land.
Map of England
The Vikings were responsible for naming a lot of our towns and villages. The area that incorporates Yorkshire, East Anglia, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire show heavy Viking settlement in their place names this is due to the Danelaw. The Danelaw was the area of England that the Danish Vikings claimed from the Anglo-Saxons and settled. Place names ending in -by , such as Selby, Grimsby, Derby or Whitby are places Vikings first settled. These (-by) endings effectively mean a village or settlement, Der-by means Deer town or town near deer. In Yorkshire alone there are over 200 (-by) place names. The (-by) has passed into common usage in the English language as 'by-law' which means the local law of the town or village.
Place names ending in -thorpe , such as Scunthorpe.. These places usually refer to farms but can also refer as secondary settlement, where the settlements were on the margins or on poor lands. So Scunthorpe is Scun's farm or Scun's land. Then there are place names as a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and Viking words for example Caws-ton (Kalf's town) or Grimton (Grim's town).
There are several arguments connected with these place names. Some historians have argued that the Viking invasions involved very large numbers of people because there are so many Viking place names. Other experts have argued that once the Viking language became the main language of the region, place names would naturally be named using Viking words. Another factor is that few large Viking settlements were on entirely new sites: many Viking settlements continued on the traditional Anglo-Saxon sites.
5 biggest English cities place name origins
London- Derived from its Roman name Londinium.
Birmingham - means sons of Breme
Manchester -The name Manchester originates from the Roman name Mamucium, the name of the Roman fort and settlement.
Leeds - A corruption of the anglo-saxon name " Leodis ".
Newcastle - Origins from the Norman Conquest when a new castle was built on its site, before then was known as Monkchester.
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