A Dictionary of British Place-Names (Oxford Quick Reference) Paperback – 14 Nov 2011
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This is a book so meticulously and scruplously compiled that it deserves not only a salutation, then, but scrutiny. And everyone who lives in this country and is curious about it should have it on a shelf, ready to take with them before going for a long, curious walk. (Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian)
Just the (almost) pocket-size reference manual you need to find out the true meaning of your home town or village. (Suffolk & Norfolk Life)
About the Author
David Mills is Emeritus Reader in English, University of London, and a member of the Council of the English Place Name Society and of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and in Ireland. Other publications include A Dictionary of London Place-Names (Oxford University Press, 2010), Place-Names of the Isle of Wight: Their Origins and Meanings (Paul Watkins Publishing, 1996), and The Place-Names of Dorset (English Place-Name Society, 4 volumes 1977-2010).
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To get all possible derivations for some very obscure names would take a lifetime and a far bigger book! So I think a certain amount of guesswork went on over a name being related to possibly a person's name back in the years of the Doomsday Book. I did set about checking if the book had details of two places I know of that are rather obscure to see if it had included them and it had missed them out (Bowerswain in Dorset and Nately Scures in Hants) though to give it due praise it had got mention of Bowerchalke and Up Nately which was near enough. To cover Wales, Ireland and Scotland was some considerable feat. So if you are interested in place name origins this is the next best thing to going on the www to find out in greater depth.
I did miss out on some of the names I was curious about, e.g., many place names in the beautiful Isles of Scilly. A wonderful addition to this book would be to include the pronunciation of the names. What's the good of knowing how "Mousehole" got its name if we mispronounce it ... not to mention "Cwmystwyth" and "Ysbyty Ystwyth "! We could reduce the number of tourists looking for "war witch", "done leg hairy", "kirk cud bright" and "god manchester".
Anyway, forgive the author for the title and buy the book! It's useful when you need it and still fascinating when you don't!