Godalming and Old English -ingas name formations


Inside the bell chamber of Godalming parish church. The rough triangular feature is the remnant of a Late Anglo-Saxon drip course, originally at the junction between nave and chancel. Above is a rubbing of a gallows erected on the nearby Lammas Lands for the last public execution in Godalming; parts of the structure were subsequently reused in the church’s spire when it was reconstructed in the 19th century.

On Saturday just gone, I was in Godalming for an Surrey Archaeological Society Medieval Studies Forum study day, both to hear about and see corners of the town and parish church that are of medieval (or general historical) importance, and to give a short presentation on the significance of the town’s name in light of the early stages of my PhD research (and my MA dissertation before it). I put together a handout to go with my talk and thought it might be of interest and use to a wider audience of Godhelmian and non-Godhelmian readers alike. Click below to read/download it.

Godalming and OE -ingas name formations June 2016

The paper here is a little different to yesterday’s printed version. In addition to correcting a couple of factual errors, it modifies the discussion of the extraordinary iron spearhead found in Farncombe and now in the collection of the excellent Godalming Museum (here’s a photo of it from an SM post a couple of years ago). It certainly looks a lot like a Swanton type H3 spearhead but, as the Museum’s curator pointed out to me, not a lot like one buried in generally acidic Surrey soil for 1450 years. There’s an element of mystery (and a whiff of suspicion) about the spearhead that I hadn’t appreciated before, and is something I now really want to get to the bottom of for my PhD!

(There’s also a second lengthy iron spearhead of unknown date on display in Godalming Museum. It’s in much poorer condition, possibly because it was found in the River Wey, which of course made me think of the many Anglo-Saxon-period spearheads found in the Thames as well as the couple known from the Wey or close to its banks. In form, it does bear a resemblance to Swanton type E3 spearheads but knowing nothing about later medieval equivalents – let alone ones of earlier and later periods! – I don’t want to make any statements about its date now that I’ll come to regret down the line…)

I had a truly fantastic day in Godalming, one that really opened my eyes to what a interesting historic town it is (one whose earlier medieval archaeology is more abundant and better understood than any comparable urban centre in present-day Surrey – with the recently-excavated Priory Orchard site certain to provide further revelations). I was born and grew up a matter of miles away from Godalming, and knew of many aspects of its medieval history, but still managed to see many new things and hear about many unknown bits of local history that I left with a renewed appreciation of the town. If you ever find yourself in South-West Surrey with some time to spare, or are looking for a historical day out, let me repeat what the car stickers of my youth proclaimed; Go to Godalming!


Old houses in Mint Street, Godalming. The street-name has yet to be adequately explained, but it’s not thought to relate to the minting of coins (as there are none known to bear the town’s name). Late Anglo-Saxon occupation evidence was found at the other end of the street in excavations conducted in 1990.

About Robert J S Briggs

Back to being a part-time early medievalist; Surrey born, London based, been known to travel
This entry was posted in Anglo-Saxon, Archaeology, Godalming, Old English, PhD, Place-Names, Surrey, Talk and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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