From Newmarket to Landguard Point - the origins of 10 more Suffolk place names
- Credit: Andrew Parsons
A number of Suffolk place names have origins that can be traced all the way back to the Anglo-Saxon and Viking days of centuries gone by - but did you know some come from the Frisians?
Indigenous to the Netherlands and northwestern Germany, the Frisians were a West Germanic ethnic group who came to England in around the fifth century.
“Bands of Frisians came over with the Angles and created settlements of their own,” explains Suffolk historian Charlie Haylock.
“In 1066, a third of William the Conqueror's invasion force was a Flemish army sent from his wife's homeland of Flanders - and after the Battle of Hastings, some of them settled in Suffolk.”
With the help of author and historian A.D. Mills, the two explore 10 more Suffolk place names and their meanings.
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Recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as ‘Fressefelda’, and some hundred years later in 1185 as ‘Frisingefeld’, this small village’s name is thought to come from the Old English words ‘Frisa’, ‘inga’ and ‘feld’.
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“It possibly refers to ‘the open land (‘feld’) belonging to the ‘inga’, either the family of, or followers of a man called ‘Frisa’ (the ‘Frisian’),” explains A.D.
A number of other Frisian settlements can be found across the county, including Freston and Friston, both derived from ‘Fresetuna’ which means ‘the farmstead of estate of the Frisian’.
“It’s not just place names though – we have some Suffolk dialect words which originate from Old Frisian, including ‘doke’, which means ‘an indentation in a surface such as a footprint’. This comes from the word ‘dolke’, meaning a ‘small hollow. Also, a ‘ligger’ which is a plank placed across a ditch as a footbridge, which comes from the Old Frisian word ‘legger’,” adds Charlie.
According to A.D. Mills, this West Suffolk village was originally recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as ‘Flemingtuna’, meaning ‘the farmstead or estate (‘tuna’) belonging to the Flemings’.
“This is a Suffolk example of William the Conqueror granting land to his Flemish allies,” explains Charlie.
“The settlement's name became abbreviated to ‘Flemton’, and then at a later date the letter ‘p’ was added for no apparent reason other than making it easier to pronounce. This is called a dialectal intrusion and has happened to many English words and names throughout history. ‘Empty’, ‘Simpkins’ and ‘Thompson’ are just few examples where a ‘p’ has been added as a dialectal intrusion for effect.”
Just north of Ixworth is the rural settlement of Coney Weston – and its name can be traced all the way back to the 11th century.
“Recorded in 1051 as ‘Cunegstone’ and in the 1086 Domesday Book as ‘Cunegestuna’ in 1086, by 1254 it was recorded as Cunewestone,” explains A.D.
It originally meant ‘the king’s manor’ or ‘royal estate’, and came from the Old Scandinavian ‘konungr’ meaning ‘king’, and Old English word ‘tūn’, which means ‘the farmstead or estate’.
“The later development of the name has been influenced by nearby Market Weston and the word ‘coney’ from the Middle English ‘coni’, which means ‘rabbit’.”
"This is another case of the ‘g’ being pronounced softly as a ‘y’, which explains how the early pronunciations can evolve towards ‘Cunewestone’ in 1254,” adds Charlie.
Although there is a fort at Landguard Point in Felixstowe, the name does not derive from ‘a point where the land is guarded’.
Landguard Point actually comes from the Old English word ‘lang’ which means ‘long’, and ‘gāra’ which means ‘a triangular piece of land’, and was recorded back in 1294 as ‘Langhere’.
“A fort was built in 1625, and by 1783 it was recorded as ‘Langar Fort’. In the Ordnance Survey map of 1805, the surrounding area was recorded as Langer Common and Langer Point. However, in 1805, it was also recognised as both Langer Fort and Landguard Fort. The present-day name of Landguard Point is the result of popular etymology,” explains A.D.
“There are still however places in Felixstowe that have the original name, such as Langer Park, Langer Road and Langer Primary School,” adds Charlie.
Recorded in the Domesday Book as both ‘Wretham’ and ‘Uuereteham’, this village in the north-east of the county became Wrentham in 1228. Its name comes from the Old English ‘hām’ which is ‘a homestead settlement or village’, of a man called ‘Wrenta’ - hence Wrentham.
Charlie adds: “This is also one of the many examples where the river is named after the village and not the other way round.”
Just outside of Woodbridge is the hamlet of Boulge, whose name can be traced back to the Normans. “Recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as ‘Bulges’, it is Norman French for ‘uncultivated land covered with heather’,” says A.D.
“Although the Normans came and conquered, there are very few settlements with Norman place names throughout England,” explains Charlie.
“However, Boulge in Suffolk is one of the few Norman settlements - along with Capel St Andrew and Capel St Mary, which comes from the Norman French word ‘capel’ meaning ‘chapel’.”
Situated south-east of Diss is Athelington, a village that has previously been recorded as ‘Elyngtone’ in 946, ‘Alinggeton’ in 1219 and ‘Athelinton’ in 1234. Its name comes from the Old English ‘ætheling tūn’ which means ‘the farmstead or estate (‘tūn’) belonging to the prince or princes ‘ætheling’.
“Legend has it that St Peter's church in Athelington was built during the very short reign of Edgar Atheling - a king in name only, as he was never crowned,” says Charlie.
“From the 1219 recording of ‘Alinggeton’, it is quite easy to see why some locals still pronounce the village name as ‘alingt'n’.”
Another settlement with Viking roots, Drinkstone near Bury St Edmunds comes from the Old English word ‘tūn’, meaning ‘the farmstead or estate belonging to a man’, combined with the Old Scandinavian name of ‘Drengr’.
It was recorded in 1042 as ‘Drincestune’, and later in the Domesday Book as ‘Drencestuna’ and ‘Drincestona’.
This Suffolk town has had a number of name changes over the centuries, including ‘Novum Mercatum’ in 1219 and ‘La Newmarket’ in 1418.
“There used to be a market town further up the Icknield Way, but due to the plague that particular market had to be disbanded and relocated to a temporary site in 1219,” explains Charlie.
“The site of the new market was recorded in Latin as ‘Novum Mercatum’ by the scribes of the Crown - namely Henry III, a French Plantagenet. When he granted a royal charter to allow the new settlement to hold a regular market, it came to pass however that the new market become permanent, as did the name - Newmarket.”
Located on the Shotley peninsula, this settlement’s name has gone through a number of changes. Originally recorded in the Domesday Book as both ‘Uluerestuna’ and ‘Hulferestuna’, by 1196 it became ‘Wolferston’. This is derived from the Old English word ‘tūn’, meaning ‘the farmstead or estate’ of a man called Wulfhere.
“‘Wulfhere’ is also an Old English warrior nickname, meaning ‘wolf warrior’,” explains Charlie.