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Place Names of West Berkshire

speaker

Dr David Peacock

17 April 2009


2:30pm at Newbury Town Hall



What's in a name? Rather more than might at first be apparent if you wish to know the meaning of local place names. This was ably demonstrated by local historian, Dr David Peacock, in the last of the spring lectures to the Field club on Friday, 17 April, entitled "The Place Names of West Berkshire." A first requirement is to know the earliest form of the name and its period/language, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Roman, Norman. The name can then be broken down into its several elements, which sometimes mutate over the years, before arriving at the meaning.


Some elements are commonly found in place names, e.g. afon, river; combe, a bowl-shaped valley; strait, strat, a connection with a Roman road; bury, burgh, a town, and so on. Sometimes the attached element can be the name of a person, e.g. Stratfield Mortimer.


Dr Peacock rounded out his lecture with an analysis of place names of towns and villages in a circuit round Newbury, with slides showing their key features. Newbury itself is a rather uninteresting example from the Norman period, meaning simply 'new town.' There was a volley of questions at the end from a large and enthusiastic audience.

Speaker

Dr Peacock is a well known speaker on the history of Newbury and its environs. Formerly a teacher of politics and history at Padworth College, Dr Peacock also gives evening classes on local history at Newbury College and Reading University. He is very familiar to readers of the Newbury Weekly News through his numerous local history articles.
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