The hardback costs over £250. An absurd price that means that only those with access to academic libraries are likely to be able to consult it (unless they are considerably better off than I am). So the more reasonably priced paperback has to be welcomed by anyone who's fascinated by place names on the map of England and wonders from where and when they derive. It's a great compendium of over 700 pages of English place name meanings and their historical derivations, essentially replacing Eckwall's dictionary which was the last authoritative book on the same subject, and which was last updated in 1960.
There's very little, if any, new research into primary sources here; rather it's a trawl through all the English Place Name Society's (EPNS) County volumes, plus that Society's unpublished material, and, in the case of some counties that EPNS hasn't yet studied, other sources (eg 'popular' one volume county works).
For each place name listed, the dictionary states which county it's in and gives a National Grid reference, a translation (ie its meaning), a list of historical spellings, an etymology and where the information has come from (eg which EPNS volume). And in some cases an explanatory comment is included and even how it's pronounced locally now (or, rather, was when the original quoted source was published).
If one goes straight into the dictionary, ignoring the introductory section, it does look somewhat daunting, as the entries are very condensed and contain a lot of abbreviations. So I guess it is important to check out that introductory material first, in order to understand how the entries are laid out. That doesn't take too long.
Its only weakness for me is the very brief 'Glossary of frequently used elements'. It's only 8 pages long, and covers only a very few elements (ie parts of place names,such as 'ton' or 'ley'). For me, those pages could have listed far more elements, far more briefly. Or they could have been omitted. Maybe I've missed the point of this section.
But that's a minor point. This is a tremendous piece of work (it took 15 years to prepare apparently) and it's one which will no doubt be the standard reference book on English place names of the whole country for years to come.
Packaged really well and delivered quickly. Well pleased with the book. So much information.it's great I can't stop reading it it's a real learning curve as to how our town are named and their meanings.