A Children's Guide to Shropshire Place-Names
Wulfwynn says that medieval people were very good at describing the appearance of places, and they had a very large vocabulary, so that they could be quite precise about what they saw. Some place-names describe dirty, muddy, sticky places – shall we have a look at some of them? I hope you’ve got your wellies on!
Fenemere is in the parish of Baschurch, and this place-name means ‘mouldy lake’. You can still see the lake today. Wulfwynn says that it is quite close to a place called Eyton, which means ‘farm on an island surrounded by marsh’, so we can imagine how wet and boggy it must have been around Fenemere hundreds of years ago.
Lorteleye is a wood in Lee Brockhurst – This name comes from the Old English word lorte, which means ‘dirty’, so here we have a ‘dirty wood’. Perhaps this wood was a bit boggy, and you might have got your shoes dirty walking through it. Yuck!
This is quite a funny-sounding name, isn’t it? Well, Wulfwynn tells us that it has quite a funny meaning: it comes from an Old English word,
wemm, which means ‘filth’. This suggests that when the Anglo-Saxons first saw Wem, that it seemed to them to be quite dirty! Wulfwynn says that although now it’s a very nice town, she certainly wouldn’t have wanted to live there 1,000 years ago!
This is the name of a field in Clunbury. Ooh, this sounds like a sticky, oozy kind of name, doesn’t it! Wulfwynn says that this field is very close to the River Clun, and so we can imagine that it can sometimes be very dirty and wet. And it shows us yet another Old English word that means ‘mud or mire’ – wase. We are beginning to build quite a collection of words meaning ‘dirty’, aren't we!
Is this name in the right section Wulfwynn? It sounds more like a place you might visit when you’re tired! But no, Wulfwynn is shaking her head. It doesn’t mean ‘sleep’ at all. This name was created from an Old English word slǣp, which means ‘slippery, muddy place’. Sleap is very close to Wem and Lee Brockhurst, where we found Lorteleye. I think that this must once have been a very sticky, muddy part of Shropshire, don’t you?
Slough Brook is a stream in Little Wenlock. This must have been quite a dirty stream when the Anglo-Saxons named it. Wulfwynn is nodding and smiling. Have you ever heard of the word ‘slough’? We don’t use it very much anymore, but it means ‘a mire’, which is a really muddy, gloopy, sloppy place. There is a town in Berkshire called Slough, and it means the same thing!
What shall we look at next?
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