A Children's Guide to Shropshire Place-Names



Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great was an Anglo-Saxon king in the ninth century. He was king of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. His daughter, Æthelflæd, was the ruler of Mercia in the tenth century. Shropshire was in Mercia.


This was the language spoken by the Normans.  It was not spoken by the English - they spoke in Old English, which eventually became Middle English, and then finally the modern English language that we speak today.


The Anglo-Saxons were people from what is now mainland Europe who migrated to Britain in the fifth century and settled here. They came from what is now know as Germany and Scandinavia.

The letter 'ash'

This letter - æ - was part of the Old English alphabet, and was called the letter ash. It was pronounced like the 'a' in cat, mat and hat.


Beowulf is the title of a very long Anglo-Saxon poem about a hero called Beowulf. Beowulf kills a monster called Grendel, who had been attacking the people living in a place called Heorot. The story is set hundreds of years ago, in the Anglo-Saxon period.

This was the language spoken by the Britons. This language eventually developed into modern Welsh.


These were the people living in Britain before either the Romans or the Anglo-Saxons arrived here. They continued to live in Britain after the Roman invasion and the Anglo-Saxon migration.


Domesday Book

Domesday Book was a great survey of England by William the Conqueror, listing most of its towns and villages. It was written in 1086, twenty years after the Normans conquered England.

the Bronze Age

In Great Britain, the Bronze Age is the period between 2100-750 BCE (before common era).

The letter 'eth'

This letter - ð - was part of the Old English alphabet, and was called the letter eth. It looks a bit like a modern 'd' that's a bit curly, and has a cross through the curly upward stroke. It was pronounced like the 'th' in the, there and then.

Industrial Revolution

In the second half of the eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution changed Britian from a largely agricultural society into an industrialised one, powered by iron machinery. Ironbridge in Shropshire is often considered to be the 'birthplace' of the Industrial Revolution.

the Iron Age

In Great Britain, the Iron Age is the period between 800 BCE (before common era) and 43 CE (commn era). In this period, there was a gradual introduction of iron working technology.

King John

John was king of England between 1199-1216. He was not considered to be a very good king, and he fell out with many English lords. This led to the creation of Magna Carta - a very important 'great charter' that gave certain rights to the English people.


Latin was the language spoken by the Romans. Much later on, the Normans used it to write things down.

Magna Carta

Magna Carta is Latin for 'great charter', and it refers to the charter that was signed in 1215 by King John, giving certain rights to the English people.


Mercia was a large Anglo-Saxon kingdom. In the early part of the Anglo-Saxon period, it was centred on the Midlands, but it later extended to include London. Shropshire was part of Mercia.

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages is a term that historians use to describe the medieval period, which began in the fifth century when the Anglo-Saxons arrived, and ended after the death of King Richard III, in 1485.


The Normans conquered England in 1066, under the leadership of William the Conqueror, who became king. They came from Normandy in France.

Norman Conquest

The Norman Conquest is the name that historians give to the succesful invasion of England by the Normans in 1066, led by Duke William of Normandy. William later became known as 'William the Conqueror'.

Offa's Dyke

Offa's Dyke was a very, very long ditch that was constructed by the Anglo-Saxons. It was associated with Offa, the king of Mercia in the eighth century. Mercia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom that included what is now modern Shropshire. The ditch separated Mercia and Wales.

Old English

Old English was the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons. The English language that we all speak today developed from this ancient language.

Old French

Old French was the language spoken in northern France in the Middle Ages.

Old Norse

Old Norse was the language spoken by the Vikings in the Middle Ages. The English language contains many words of Old Norse origin, including 'they', 'window', 'skip' and 'reindeer'.

Old welsh

The Welsh language went through several stages of development. British, the language spoken by the Britons, developed into Old Welsh which was spoken between about 800 and 1200 CE.

Ordnance Survey

The Ordnance Survey produces the official series of maps for Great Britain.


The Romans first arrived in Britain around the year 55 BCE, and returned as invaders in 43 CE, staying until the early fifth century. The Roman language was Latin.


The Vikings first arrived in Britain at the end of the eighth century. They were originally raiders, but eventually lots of them stayed and settled in England, mostly in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Watling Street

Watling Street is the name of a road built by the Romans. It was very long, and at one time it stretched from Richborough on the south coast in Kent, all the way to Wroxeter in Shropshire, via London. Another branch of Watling Street in Shropshire ran from Wroxeter, through Church Stretton and on into Herefordshire.

William the Conqueror

King William I is popularly known as William the Conqueror, because his Norman army beat King Harold II at the battle of Hastings in 1066, and therefore conquered the kingdom of England.  Historians call this event 'the Norman Conquest', and it marks the end of the early medieval period in England. Before becoming king, William was the Duke of Normandy, which is in modern France.