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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 was the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons. The English language that we all speak today developed from this ancient language.
Old French was the language spoken in northern France in the Middle Ages.
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'.
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 AD.
The Romans first arrived in Britain around the year 55 BC, and returned as invaders in 43 AD, 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.
This symbol - an asterisk - indicates an Old English word spoken by the Anglo-Saxons that only appears in place-names, and not in any other Anglo-Saxon text.