A Children's Guide to Shropshire Place-Names
Place-names that tell us about animals and birds
According to Wulfwynn, the Anglo-Saxons were very good at noticing animals and birds, and many Shropshire place-names tell us about the kinds of creatures that they saw. Some of them are animals that you will recognise today, but others might be quite surprising! Let’s take a look!
Can you guess what kind of animal Lee Brockhurst was named after? It’s an animal that we still sometimes call ‘brock’ today. The animal that the Anglo-Saxons saw in Lee Brockhurst was a badger! The Old English word for badger was brocc, and so Lee Brockhurst means ‘a wooded hill where badgers are found’.
This name relates to a bird, but it’s another creature that we no longer see in Shropshire today. It’s a bird called a crane, which
looks a little bit like a heron. Cranes like to build their messy nests high up, and so they would have been quite easy to spot, and there were probably lots of them in Coreley! Cranes are now extinct in Britain, but they used to visit us every summer.
Wooffley is the name of a field in Ashford Carbonel – Ah! Here’s one I think I know! Wooffley! It must be a dog, right? Why are you shaking your head Wulfwynn? I’m almost right, did you say? Can you give me a clue please? Wulfwynn says
that if we think of her name, we might be able to guess this animal. Can you think what it could be? Of course you can – it’s a wolf! We can now guess what the Old English word for wolf was, using Wulfwynn’s name: wulf! Even though there are no wild wolves in Shropshire now, when the Anglo-Saxons lived here, they roamed
around the countryside. Names like Wooffley, which means ‘wolves’ open woodland’ show us that the Anglo-Saxons knew where the wolves could be found.
Are you sure that you’ve put this name in the right section Wulfwynn? It doesn’t sound as though it belongs here – we are looking at animals and birds! Wulfwynn says that the animal contained in the name Lostford lived in Shropshire hundreds of years ago. It was a very big cat – can you think what kind of cat it was? It wasn’t a lion or a tiger, but a lynx! Have you ever heard of a lynx? Lynx are secretive animals, and they live in remote places with lots of trees.
Wulfwynn says that this is quite a difficult one to guess, because the word that the Anglo-Saxons used for this creature – earn – is rather different from the modern word that we use today. You’re going to have to tell us Wulfwynn! It’s an eagle! In the medieval period, eagles flew in the skies above Shropshire, and lots of place-names reveal where they could be found. Earnwood is in Kinlet, and you can still visit it today, because it is a publicly-accessible woodland. But you will have to imagine the eagles that once flew there!
Wulfwynn has given you this easy one, because the others in this section have
all been quite hard! Can you guess what kind of animal is hiding within this place-name? It is a very wiggly creature! Wigley, which is in Westbury, was named after wiggling insects. It seems that the Anglo-Saxons noticed really small animals as well as those that were quite large. They certainly were observant, weren’t they?
What have we learned?
Looking at animals and birds in Shropshire place-names has been fascinating, hasn’t it? We’ve learned all sorts of things, especially about animals that once lived here a long time ago. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expecting to read about Shropshire wolves, lynxes, eagles and cranes today! Medieval Shropshire sounds like a very exciting place to have lived in!
What shall we look at next?
just click on the links below to go to each chapter!