A reassessment of the occurrences of Old English -ingas and -ingaham in Surrey place-names

This is a bigger, better version of my (second) Master’s dissertation, written over the Summer of 2014 and submitted following three days without sleep at the end of August (or early September – I forget which now). I’ve written a summary of what the dissertation’s about on Academia (look under the “Info” tab if it doesn’t show straight away) so I’ll spare you the full details here – you may like to check this blog post I wrote in the aftermath of hand-in if you’re still hungry for more. Anyway, the utilitarian title I came up with pretty much covers it in less than a full sentence.

Click on the links below for the revised 2016 version of the dissertation and a file containing its four Appendices.

A reassessment of OE -ingas and -ingaham place-names in Surrey DISSERTATION June 2016

A reassessment of OE -ingas and -ingaham place-names in Surrey APPENDICES June 2016

The dissertation I submitted was (and is) a piece of work of which I’m very proud, but given the circumstances of a self-imposed deadline and sleep deprivation, when it was returned to me after marking, the thing turned out to be riddled with stupid little errors that come from trying to proof-read when you’re so fatigued that you can barely remember any of the basic principles of English grammar and syntax. I’d always had the intention of uploading the dissertation so people could have a look at what I’d written and maybe find bits of it useful for their own research, but for too many months I was unable to commit the time and energy necessary to making the suggested corrections. However, during this time, I did continue to think about and research some of the trickier place-names, leading me to refine or revise my conclusions I’d set out in the submitted study.

At long last, in May 2016, I dedicated a cold-and-sore-throat-afflicted week to turning it into the work I’d come to envisage. Without the strictures of word counts to abide by, I was able to indulge in extended discussions of some of the names I’d had cause to reevaluate in the intervening period. Consequently, a number of names have several pages lavished upon them, whereas others are straightforward enough as to require only a single paragraph. My intention in every case was to set out all credible options that either have been suggested in print or which could be suggested on the basis of comparison with other, better-understood place-names, and in totality I’m happy this is achieved by the updated dissertation. (CONFESSION – I caved and made a few further – and final! – revisions to the dissertation in early June 2016, mainly improving upon the appraisal of the place-name Eashing.)

As much as I tried to incorporate all of my current thinking into the new version, it’s far from my final word on the subject (let alone what others may wish to contribute). I used the original dissertation as a way of blooding myself in the ways of detailed philological analysis of a dataset of place-name attestations (one that I went out of my way to enrich with previously-unanalysed forms found in printed editions of medieval texts). Nowadays, I’m engaged in PhD-level research at UCL on the subject of -ingas name formations and group identities, doing the same sort of onomastic analysis only this time over a much broader study area. More than that, though, I’m looking at the eponymous social groups (if that is indeed what any given -ingas place-name represents) in an interdisciplinary manner, seeing how the place-names that seemingly record their former presence (or at least existence) fit into wider archaeological, historical, and physical environments.

Additional to this, I’ve got a couple of articles that I’m in the very early stages of writing which will use pieces of my dissertation work in appraisals of broader historical and archaeological themes. One will take an even longer look at the name of Dorking than is proffered in the dissertation. This will act as a platform for discussing OE -ingas and -inga- place- and district-names which appear to incorporate a “British” first element, either that of a significant landscape feature like a river, or in a smaller number of cases that of a person. These name formations have interesting but hitherto little-explored implications so far as matters of British-Saxon cultural and linguistic interaction are concerned. I will also draw from elements of the analysis in the second of the three full-length articles I’m pulling together from unpublished draft pieces by the late Dennis Turner (first one is going to be published later this year!) spliced with my own words. This will examine the reasons for the differences between medieval East and West Surrey (the former -ingas-poor, the latter -ingas-rich), and whether there is merit in an old idea of the east of the county having been a Kentish lathe.

And maybe one day I’ll ring-fence another week to amend my first MA dissertation, written way back in 2007. To celebrate its 10-year anniversary perhaps? Oh, how time flies…

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