Everyday, it seems, is a school day, and that is doubly so for a researcher. In fact, if a researcher doesn’t learn something that day – they aren’t researching hard enough!
Sometimes what you find out is the answer to a question you have been looking into for some time (always a delight), and other times, it’s a purely whimsical serendipitous treasure of knowledge. Today was the latter for me!
I just took delivery of a book I ordered, Simon Elmes’ ‘Talking for Britain’, the accompanying book to the BBC’s “Voices” project, which was also part of a radio series ‘Word 4 Word’. Browsing through the section on the West of England, I caught one little nugget of info I wasn’t aware of…
The place name root ‘stoc’ is an Old English word meaning ‘place, farm or monastery’, and is found (in whole or modified form) in many placenames around the south west. Within Somerset, we can most clearly see this in Stogumber, Stockland Bristol, Stogursey, Stoke St Gregory, etc.
I’ve long been away of the origins of some other place names around England that come from either Old Norse in the north and east of the country, much in line with ‘Danelaw’ (‘kirk’ is church, appears in names like ‘Kirkby Lonsdale’ in Cumbria; ‘Toft’ means a small wood on a hill, appears in ‘Lowestoft’ in Norfolk), and endings like ‘ton’ are shortened forms of ‘town’ which we see a lot of in Somerset. But I wasn’t aware of ‘stoc’.