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Place-name evidence for an Anglo-Saxon animal name: OE *pohha/*pocca fallow deer’

Carole Hough

Anglo-Saxon England / Volume30 / December 2001

It is well known that the extant corpus of Old English literature preserves only a proportion of the vocabulary that once existed. In some instances, terms for concepts that must have been familiar to the Anglo-Saxons have been lost without trace; in others, they may be reconstructed from non-literary forms of evidence such as the place-names coined by early settlers in the areas now known as England and southern Scotland. The main dictionary of place-name terminology, Smith’s English Place-Name Elements of 1956, includes many entries for words which are otherwise either unattested, or attested only with other meanings. Animal names in particular constitute an area of vocabulary which is under-represented in literary sources but common in place-names, and for which toponymic evidence often proves crucial. Old English animal names unattested in the extant literature but included in English Place-Name Elements are *bagga ‘badger’, *bula ‘bull’, *ean ‘lamb’, *gæten ‘kid’, *galt ‘pig, boar’, *græg ‘badger’, *hyrse ‘mare’, *padde ‘toad’, *padduc ‘frog’, *pigga ‘young pig’, *stedda ‘horse’, *tacca and *tagga ‘teg, young sheep’, *tige ‘goat’, *todd ‘fox’ and *wiðer ‘ram, wether’. Those identied more recently include *brun ‘pig’ and *wearg ‘wolf ’. As the English Place-Name Survey progresses, providing detailed coverage of the country’s toponyms in a series of annual volumes inaugurated in the 1920s, further examples may be expected to come to light. The aim of this article is to offer a new addition to the corpus.

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