Monday, March 01, 2010

Book Review

Now I admit that I have no qualification whatsoever to review a book about Herefordshire placenames, but, hey, even the author Mr. Coplestone-Crow admits that he himself is no expert. Indeed he has relied heavily on placename guru, the late Dr Margaret Gelling who also provides a less than glowing foreword.

On the face of it untangling English placenames is a fairly straightforward business - you take a familiar element, the ley in Litley for example, meaning a clearing and then add on some random Saxon forename, in this case Lutta ,to give Lutta's clearing. OK I'm joshing a subject which I know nothing about - but it would be useful to know a little bit more about names like Lutta, and if there is any other evidence for their presence in the localities to which they supposedly gave their names.

It is in Mr Coplestone-Crow's treatment of the old district names of Herefordshire that the book has great value. Of course I was aware of the old Welsh districts of Ewyas and Erging, although not the extent of the latter. The district of Mawfield or Maes Mail Locheu was news to me, while my confusion concerning the location of Lugharness - it means Lordship on the River Lugg and according to Percy Enderbie was Welsh in speech in the 17C - was cleared up. Oh and doesn't the observation that Geoffrey of Monmouth made a copying error, confusing the D in what is now Doward with CL to give Cloartius as the location of Vortigern's last stand, rather suggest that he was using older sources rather than his own imagination?

Not a book which will be of much interest to Radnorians, except for the occasional irridentist such as myself, Herefordians, no doubt, would be well advised to snap it up.


Gwenddolen said...

Of great interest to this Radnorian too! I pounced on to look up a number of names that baffled me: sorry to see Coplestone-Crow has nothing more to say about derivation of Hergest , near Kington.

Anonymous said...

I believe Andrew Breeze discussed the name Hergest in the Radnorshire Society Transactions, anyone know what he came up with?