Digging down to find out place names’ past

thisisoxfordshire: Katie Hambrook has been researching the history behind place names in Rose Hill and Iffley Buy this photo Katie Hambrook has been researching the history behind place names in Rose Hill and Iffley

IF YOU have ever wondered what the stories behind the name of your street were, you are not alone.

The reasons can often stretch back in history as far as the Anglo-Saxon or even the Roman times.

Now one amateur archaeologist, Katie Hambrook, has uncovered some of the history behind place names in Rose Hill and Iffley.

Ms Hambrook, 54, is a librarian at Oxford Brookes University and has spent more than a year gathering and studying the information with others from archaeology group Archeox.

The findings have now been published online at Archeox.net.

She said: “We wanted to get a sense of how people looked at the landscape in the past.

“We hope it will complement other studies being done in Archeox.

“I focused especially on the old parishes of Iffley and Rose Hill. What was interesting about that was how the area used to be woodland but over time the trees were cleared and it became ordinary fields.

“I was surprised to also find the field name Barrow Hill, which was a place on Rose Hill, listed in the 17th and 18th century records and could mean ‘our barrow’.”

“That means it may have been a prehistoric barrow, or in other words a burial mound.”

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Ms Hambrook also found Iffley’s name commemorates its origin as a woodland place used for pasturing pigs.

And the Grove in Rose Hill was a wooded area for more than 1,000 years and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Its modern streets where field animals once grazed and Bears Hedge Furlong, a field around the southern part of Courtland Road, refers to “an enclosed or fenced-in part of a forest”.

Ms Hambrook added: “It was just a small group of us, about six people, meeting over the last couple of years.

“It gave me an opportunity to teach other people how to investigate these things, which I had done while researching family history.

“A lot of surnames come from place names, which is something I found interesting and have stayed interested in since.”

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