A Children's Guide to Shropshire Place-Names
Places for getting together
Some Shropshire place-names can tell us about places where people got together for all sorts of reasons – perhaps for a meeting, or to play games. Shall we go and find out what they were all up to?
Plowsters is the name of a field in Kempton – Well, I think this sounds like a farming kind of name, doesn’t it? But Wulfwynn says no, that’s not at all right. Plowsters comes from a word that that the Anglo-Saxons used that meant a ‘playing place’: pleg-stow. Wulfwynn tells us that the ‘g’ in this word was pronounced a bit like a modern ‘y’. So Plowsters was where Anglo-Saxon people went to play games together!
This is a field in Chirbury – Wulfwynn says this name is quite straightforward. It relates to a place where people got together to race horses. There are still lots of horses in Shropshire, and this sounds like it would have been lots of fun!
This wood is in Chirbury. Now pay attention, because Wulfwynn says that this is quite an important name! That’s because it may tell us about the place where the most important local people held meetings in medieval times. It means ‘the tree of the men of the hundred’. A medieval hundred was a territory – bigger than a village but smaller than a county. Wulfwynn says that this was a very special place indeed, because it was where all the important local matters were decided.
Hundred House is in Clunbury – If you’re thinking that this sounds a bit like the kind of meeting that took place at Whittery, you’d be right! Wulfwynn says that meetings were held in every hundred, and some of the places where they were held became known as the Hundred House. After the Norman Conquest, when William the Conqueror became king of England, a court was held at the Hundred meeting place.
This is another field-name, this time from a field in Oldbury – Wulfwynn says that this would have been an ash-tree at which people would have gathered to hear the gospel being read – in other words, extracts from the bible. But, she says, did you know that the modern word ‘gospel’ comes from the Old English word god-spell?
What have we learned?
We’ve learned lots about people getting together in medieval Shropshire, and the reasons why they all met up. Sometimes, it was for the serious business of making important decisions and holding courts to administer justice. Some meetings were for religious purposes. And at other times, people got together to have a good time! There are still more exciting place-names to explore – where shall we look next?
What shall we look at next?
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