Origins of place names in England

In England, prior to the 15th Century, the majority of place names were adaptations of the location or features of the landscape or referred to the land ownership.

The naming of these places dated back to the Celts, Romans, Vikings, Angles and Saxons as well as the French of the new Norman Invaders of England.

Reputedly, more than 1,500 place names in England have Scandinavian origins, which for obvious reasons of invasion were focused on the Eastern side of the country in counties such as Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

This can be useful to a surveyor or anyone with an interest in a specific location. E.g. if the place name means lake, river or stream, will buildings there be more likely to flood?

Examples of the common roots and components of place names in the UK include:

Avon Means River in Celtic
Beck The Scandinavian word for stream is Bekkr
Bury, Borough A fortified place or settlement. Congresbury,
By Village – usually at the end of the word like Derby, Corby or Coningsby
Caster, Chester, Cester A Roman fort or settlement like Chichester, Chester, Cirencester
Clopp A hill. Clophill, Clapham
Coombe, Comb, Coomb, Cumb A valley. Mothercombe
Cott, Cote A house, home or cottage.
Dean or Dene Little Valley
Den Pasture for pigs
Don Derived from Dun meaning hill
Essex See Sex. East Land of the Saxons
Eg, Ea or Ey Promontry or Peninsular. Withernsea, Pevensey, Romney
Farn Anglicisation of Fern. Farnborough, Farnley
Field Feld means open land – Area without trees. Sheffield
Flete A stream
Frith A wood for hunting for the use of a lord or king
Ham A village or Estate. Hamlet – A little village
Holme or Holme. Holt A wood (Saxon)
Hurst A wooded Hill (Saxon)
Ing At the end of the place name it means “the people of”
Inga In the middle of a place name it means “belonging to”. Nottingham = Snott inga ham = The village belonging to Snotta
Kirk Church (Scandanavian)
Ley, Leigh, Ly Wood or clearing in a wood
Mere, More Pond or Lake
Pen Head
Prest Priest
Rith The scandanavian word for little stream.  Penrith (Head of the little stream)
Sex Ending to state “land of Saxons”. Sussex (South Saxons Land), Essex (East) etc
Sted, Stedding, Stead Literally means Place. West Grinstead (West Green Place)
Stoke Means Hamlet (usually which depended on a larger settlement nearby.)
Stour Strong (River with a strong Flow)
Stowe, Stow Meeting Place
Sutton From Sud Tun meaning South Farm
Umbria, Umbra Dark Land or Land of Shadow. Northumberland
Thorpe Means Hamlet which depended on a larger settlement nearby – Danish origin. Thorpe Park
Thwaite A Scandinavian word for clearing.
Toft A Scandinavian word for house.
Tun, Ton, Farm or hamlet. Taunton – Hamlet on the Tone
Wald, Wold, Weald A Forest (Saxon)
Whitchurch White Church (Usually as made with white stone)
Wick or wich Roman for in the vicinity of (vicus). Wickham – in the vicinity of a village. Wickford. It could also mean either trading place (Norwich, Greenwich) or a name for a specialised farm if at the end: Gatwick – Goat Farm
Worth Timber Enclosure or enclosed settlement.