Anglo-Saxons in Devon: place-name formation in Exeter’s hinterland
Society of Name Studies of Britain and Ireland (Fourteenth Annual Conference, Swansea, 2005)
Place-name evidence often features in attempts to understand the transition by which BritishDumnonia became Anglo-Saxon Devon. For example, the EPNS survey in the early 1930s argued that, because less than one percent of Devon’s place-names are of pre-English origin, the English conquest here must have been so complete that ‘no considerable native population remained to complicate the life of the new settlers’. Yet this argument discounted not only pre-English river-names but also the place-names derived from them, assuming that the latter wereentirely English formations. It also took little account of the processes of place-name formationand replacement over time. What I’d like to do today is to explore these two issues in more detail.