Monday, 8 October 2012

Anglo-Saxon God Names in English Place-Names

The evidence for the worship of our Anglo-Saxon Gods is to be found all over the English countryside and in English towns, villages and hamlets. Woden, Thunor, Tiw and Frige are to be found as elements in place-names and managed to survive the christianisation of our people. They exist today as a constant reminder of our natural Gods just as we are reminded about them in the days of the week.

Woden features in more place names than any other God and indeed this should not surprise us as He is the All-Father, our most high God. Below are examples of such place names, many of them gleaned from the pages of A Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills. I have only included examples which are known to be reliable.

Woden[also known as Grim] Wednesbury, Wednesfield, Wednesham, Wanborough, Wansdyke, Woden`s Barrow, Woden Hill, Woden`s Way, Woden`s Den Woodway, Wornshill, Woodnesborough, Grimsdyke, Grimes Graves, Grimsbury, Grimley, Grimspound, Grimscote, Grimsthorpe, Grinstead.

Thunor Thundersley, Thursley. Tiw Tysoe, Tuesley, Dewsbury.

Frige Frobury, Froyle, Fretherne, Fride.

In addition to God names some place-names indicate heathen sites of worship without specifying a particular God`s name. Hearg[Harrow], Wig and Weoh[Wye] are Anglo-Saxon terms for `heathen shrine or temple`. Harrow Harrow, Harrow Weald, Harrowden, Great and Little Harrowden. Wye Wye, Weedon, Weedon Bec, Weedon Lois, Weeford, Wysall and Wyfordby.

There are many place names preceded by Freo, Frea and Ing but I am not yet convinced that these are necessarily references to place names named after Anglo-Saxon Gods. I will need to conduct further research. However I would be very surprised if these Gods were not also honoured in our place-names. I have specifically focused on Anglo-Saxon not Scandinavian examples and therefore have not searched for Scandinavian examples although I am surprised how few there are in comparison to Anglo-Saxon ones.


Steed said...

I've been pondering lately upon the part Ing has played in our language and psyche. If Ing-worship was brought to England by the Ingvaoenic tribes (and I believe Ingui-Frea may have preceded Woden in Northern Europe) and England acquired its name from Ing, then the use of '-ing' in so many patronymic and place names could well be ultimately derived from worship of Ingui-Frea.

'-ing' means 'belonging to', so for example 'Hastings' (originally 'Hæstingas') meant 'the people belonging to Hæsta'. The question is: Is '-ing' in this type of use purely functional or somehow related to Ingui-Frea?

Furthermore, when words ending in '-ing' are verbs - e.g. 'running' - does that mean 'beloning to the run'? It's an entirely new way of looking at verbs and I intend to explore the idea on my blog (eyeofwoden.blogspot.com). I'm sure scholars have covered this, but perhaps not from the Heathen perspective so much.


Wotans Krieger said...

I agree.It is for this very reason that for the moment I refrain from exploring the Ing place-name question until I carry out further research.Thanks for your comment and I look forward to exploring your blog.

Steed said...

You're welcome WK, and thanks. I'd like to put a link to this blog on mine if you don't mind.

Wotans Krieger said...

Yes, please do so.

Simon Burchell said...

The place-name dictionaries are very materialist minded. Place-names such as Woking, Godalming, Worthing etc. etc. are always attributed to -ing "the followers of a leader called...". I have long suspected that these may be the names of minor deities, ancestors etc. and not a literal leader.

Wotans Krieger said...

Thanks for your comment Simon and yes I agree. Scholars generally tend to avoid any mystical heathen associations with most aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture and that even includes the Runes, some denying their mystical uses and origins.