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The History of Suffolk Place-Names


with Dr Keith Briggs

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, November 10th 2012

The aim of the day is to explain where our places-names came from, and why they take the form they do. Language will form our unifying thread, but we will make connections to geography, local history, and personal names.

Provisional Programme
(There may be variations to the programme on the day – all these subjects will be covered, but not necessarily in the advertised order.)
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Introduction: our main themes and methods
History of place-name studies
Roman Suffolk
The name of the county
The earliest English place-names of Suffolk Hundred-names: our largest administrative units
Domesday Book and other sources
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Language history: the way place-names change
Old and Middle English (OE, ME); OE dative & genitive
Phonology (sound changes); Great Vowel Shift
Summary of the etymological method
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The elements of place-names
The types of -ing
Viking (Old Norse) elements; OE personal names
A look at the distribution of elements
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Case studies: examples from previous lectures
River-names; French (Norman) names
Examples of especially interesting or unsolved names
Thorpes; Types of farmland
What you can do to continue your interest in place-names
  16:20 Close  

About Dr Keith Briggs

Keith Briggs is a native East Anglian and has been interested in place-names since his childhood. He is now a Visiting Fellow in linguistics at the University of the West of England, a council member of the English Place-Name Society, and has published many papers on place-names and other aspects of historical linguistics. He has lived in Suffolk since 2000 and is working on the first book on Suffolk place-names to be published by the English Place-Name Society. He is professionally a mathematician.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

General place-name books & dictionaries
Cameron, K., English place-names (1996). Ekwall, E., The concise Oxford dictionary of English place-names (1960). Gelling, M., Signposts to the past: place-names and the history of England (1988). Gelling, M., & Ann Cole, The landscape of place-names (2003). Mills, A. D., The dictionary of English place-names (1998). Reaney, P. H., The origin of English place-names (1967). Smith, H., English place-name elements (1956). Spittal, J. & J. Field, A reader’s guide to the place-names of the United Kingdom (1990). Watts, V., The Cambridge dictionary of English place-names (2004).

Suffolk place-names
Arnott, W. G., The place-names of the Deben Valley parishes (1946). Dymond, D. P., Introduction to Hodskinson's map of Suffolk in 1783 (2003). Dyke, G., S. Podd & others. Deben Valley place-names (1989). Gelling, M., “A chronology for Suffolk place-names”, in M. Carver (ed.), The Age of Sutton Hoo (1992), pp.53-64. Scarfe, N., Suffolk in the Middle Ages (1986). Skeat, W.W., The place-names of Suffolk (1913)

Web resources
Journal of the English Place-Name Society (some articles on Suffolk – see http://keithbriggs.info/JEPNS_contents.html)
Key to English place-names (KEPN) http://kepn.nottingham.ac.uk/map/county/Suffolk (a bit out-of-date on some Suffolk names)
English Place-Name Society (EPNS) http://epns.org
Bosworth & Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (BT) http://www.bosworthtoller.com/
Middle English Dictionary (MED) http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med/
Anglo-Norman Dictionary (AND) http://www.anglo-norman.net/


Please phone or email to check the availability of places. Study Days are 38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition. Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
tel : 01394 386498

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)
Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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We have learnt of the fame of the Wuffing folk-lords of long ago, of how those wolf-kings held the ancestral land of East Anglia....
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