WI/AHC: Alternate names for English towns and cities (Anglo-Saxon, Viking era)

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by saltburn861, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. saltburn861 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2017
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    I've downloaded PDFs of place-name books on English place-name meanings from the Internet Archive and am trying to understand the grammar etc. to construct place-names.

    It's a fair bit to understand, but I am using secondary sources that are now in the public domain, being published around 1896-1900s.

    This is slightly different to some AHs on here, in that I haven't got a specific POD, but rather am trying to work out when it could be for the names to be different.

    This is a key to abbreviations used


    -----

    So far, I've been trying to come up with alternative names for these towns and cities:


    Blackburn
    Lancs

    Birmingham West Midlands

    Lincoln Lincolnshire (possible WIs: what if the Romans didn't colonise it, but a city was still founded, alternative names??)

    Liverpool Merseyside

    Luton Beds.

    Middlesbrough Teesside

    Preston Lancs

    Reading Berkshire

    Sheffield
    South Yorkshire

    Walton-le-Dale Lancs (WI if the British had never lived there, Walton meaning "farm of the British people", from Old English wala "foreigner" + tun "farm", what could this suburb be called instead, and still reflect the geography?)

    Westminster Greater London (This has some possibilities for a WI: especially if the mynster, or church, hadn't existed. I know that Westminster is shorthand for politics now, but people would have to refer to British politics in some other way).

    This is a sort of "WI city-name was different and what could be plausible reasons for the meaning?"

    I'm trying to work out where a POD could be for these to have very different names to what we have now, whether they be Old English, Old Norse or British (I'm assuming British refers to Romano-British or Celtic).

    I know a bit about the basics of place-name elements and formations but would be interested to know if anyone here could come up with possible alternate names and meanings that would fit the Anglo-Saxon/ Viking time periods.

    This isn't for a timeline (yet) but is its own standalone discussion.

    I should point out, I'm new-ish to this and trying to understand the ins and outs of place-names and their meanings (British ones anyway) and the pre-1900 part of alternatehistory.com.

    I'm new-ish to this, and would be interested to see where this goes.
     
    Historyman 14 likes this.
  2. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Tennessee, North American Union
    What do you want from it? Modern English toponymy is a result of the history since the second millennium. There could be a more "Nordic" toponymy, certainly, and if you want a PoD no later than the 6-7th century, there's many Celtic possibilities to consider, and a few centuries earlier you can get more Latin toponymy. But otherwise, Anglo-Saxon toponymy is pretty consistent. There's different dialects of Old English (like the common Wessex dialect versus others), which could make different "languages" (although IIRC this happened OTL in England/Scotland with Old English dialects). It doesn't seem hard to make an Old English place name (even if you rip off some generic toponym in Frisia, the Netherlands, etc.) and give a modern English equivalent.
     
  3. saltburn861 Well-Known Member

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    As to what I want from it, for a possible WI relating to Anglo-Saxons and Vikings

    This will make some sense relating to the context of this.
     
  4. perdu42 Well-Known Member

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    Dec 27, 2014
    Location:
    The Land That Time Forgot
    Do I understand your post correctly, you would like alternative Anglo-Saxon names for the listed (Anglo-Saxon) villages/towns/cities?
     
  5. saltburn861 Well-Known Member

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    Well, partially these, but also trying to find a POD that could explain the reasons for these places having different names - for example, WI no church at Westminster as example?

    In general, though, trying to understand place-name formation at a basic level for a WI on Anglo-Saxons I will be writing.
     
  6. piratedude Pirate Lord of the Great Lakes

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  7. perdu42 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Location:
    The Land That Time Forgot
    OK, using Westminster as an example, if no church built there it would probably retain it's geographical place name - Thorney Island.

    As to the more substantive part of your post(s), ie finding a POD, it sounds like you're suggesting an Anglo-Saxon colonisation that differs from OTL in the sense that these Angles/Saxons/Jutes don't name things based on whatever Romano-British survivals happen to exist, eg. (Eboracum > Eoforwic > {Jorvik} >) York.
     
  8. saltburn861 Well-Known Member

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    I hadn't considered it as Thorney. Will have to read up a bit more.

    Good suggestion for a POD on Romano-British - I wonder if Wigan counts as a Saxon adaptation of a Romano-British name?
     
  9. Zen9 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2018
    Well Southampton could remain Hamwick.
    Dorchester could have been Durnweir.
    York could have been Everwick.


    But generally one would have to dig out geographic history to come up with alternatives.