In her essay ‘Domesday Mortlake’ (arguably the best published piece of research on early medieval Surrey since, well, John Blair’s book on the county in that period), Pamela Taylor makes an interesting suggesting in relation to (bi) wimbedouneyngemerke, a boundary mark of the twenty-hide Merton estate granted along with five hides at Dulwich by King Edgar in 967 (Sawyer 747 – an editorial error in the published article ascribes the diploma to the year 957).
Having observed that this must equate to the line of the present-day Coombe Lane and Kingston Road, Taylor goes on to argue that the boundary ‘also ran along the southern edge of Wimbledon’s narrow belt of arable fields’ (page 216). It seems possible that, because the mark means “the boundary of the people/community of Wimbledon”, some might seek to extrapolate from this that it must refer to adjacent communally-cultivated open fields. This would be unwise. The later occurrence of (bi) michamingemerke in the same bounds, and the widespread use of the Old English compound -ingamearc in boundary clauses of estates in other counties, proves it to be a straightforward generic identifier of a defined boundary associated with an adjacent vill. This is not to say Wimbledon, Mitcham, or indeed Merton did not have open fields by this time, but – just as in the case of “the seven acres” – such things must await proof by some means other than charter-bounds toponymy.
In addition to seeking out Dr Taylor’s essay, I thoroughly recommend anyone interested in the analysis of the boundary clauses of the Thames valley in Surrey should take advantage of the Wandsworth Historical Society’s current offer of a DVD containing pdf copies of each and every issue of their excellent journal Wandsworth Historian. As well as a shorter, more Wandsworth-focused version of the aforementioned article, it also provides access to a wealth of earlier notes on the brace of fascinating boundary clauses for Battersea/Wandsworth (which I have been studying lately for a forthcoming piece on a remarkable boundary description in one of them), Lambeth, and the most comprehensive explanation of the Merton bounds to date, by Keith Bailey. All for a mere fiver (plus p&p)! Details can be found on the Society’s website here.
Pamela Taylor, ‘Domesday Mortlake’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 32 (2010), 203-229