Following hot on the heels (well, in the grand scheme of things) of my preliminary analysis of Peper Harow as a “pagan” place-name is a piece drawing together various strands of evidence relating to Thursley in the period before, during and after its probable status as a place of non-Christian sacred significance, specifically one dedicated to the Germanic deity Thunor. It grapples with the archaeological and landscape context of the place-name, something which is not usually attempted but provides considerable non-linguistic corroboration to the linguistic analyses. This piece of work has gone through more revisions and updates than most, with the version below the final (and I mean it) iteration of something first posted in August 2012.
Truth be told, this is my second assessment of the place-name. The first one went from being a very satisfactory piece of work that I thought was philologically watertight (having been told as much by someone of supposedly expert linguistic knowledge) to one that was anything but. I salvaged as much as I could from the wreckage of the first article (okay, so maybe it wasn’t that bad – if you insist on reading it then you can do so here) and incorporated it with several important new references to form an article that was published under the title ‘Thursley revisited’ in Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin, 434 (August 2012), 5-10. Because I was up against it to make the copy deadline, the article did not undergo a final proofreading and as a consequence contains a number of mistakes that have been corrected as part of an overhaul of the paper to mould it into the much more satisfactory form presented here.
For the first time in the brief history of Surrey Medieval I’m including a separate appendix as an accompaniment to one of my papers. It gathers together the links to and key information from the PAS and PastScape database entries for a number of Roman-era artefacts from Thursley parish. I chose to use the entries from PastScape rather than those from the county Historic Environment Record available through the excellent Exploring Surrey’s Past website because of the quality of its entries; most of the findspots are listed on both, but only PastScape gives the relevant written references in addition to extra background information. With HERs feeling the force of cuts in council budgets, I fear it may be a very long time before Exploring Surrey’s Past HER entries become of an equivalent standard. (The challenges of the current financial climate are made clear by recent posts in the excellent English Landscape and Identities project blog – Surrey stands out as one of the few remaining authorities to provide data.)
I hope that what you find above is now robust enough that I will not feel compelled to return to it again in a few years because it has transpired that a large part of what I have written above is incorrect. Next stop – a synoptic overview of west Surrey’s population of post-Roman non-Christian religious or quasi-religious places and place-names…