English Place-Name Elements Relating to Boundaries

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Place-names often reflect local, cultural, and political history. It is only natural, therefore, that words for such historically important phenomena as boundaries should form part of place-names. In England,
there is a fair number of place-name elements that refer to boundaries. Some of them are treated in this thesis. They are OE (ge)mǣre, OE mearc, OE *rān, *rǣn(e), ON rein, ON rá, and OE hār.
The study concentrates on Gloucestershire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, but it also contains material from many other counties. The material is divided into Old English (OE) material and Middle
English (ME) and later material. The aim is to ascertain to some extent the geographical distribution of the elements and to ascertain their meaning(s). The material suggests that for southern England mearc in
OE is a word of the south-east and (ge)mǣre a word of at least much of the rest of the area, and that these dialect boundaries were somewhat dissolved later on. The material for rein, *rān, *rǣn(e), and rá
is limited to the northern half of England, which is natural in the case of rein and rá; for *rān and *rǣn(e)possible explanations are given. The material supports the theory that there did exist an OE *rān and an
OE *rǣn(e). It does not show any geographical limitations for hār. The principal meaning of (ge)mǣre, mearc and rá is ‘boundary’, and of *rān, *rǣn(e) and rein ‘boundary strip’. With hār, the question whether it has come to mean ‘boundary-’ is a well-known problem, discussed here at some length, with the conclusion that the material neither proves nor disproves it. There are compounds with hār that have received a special meaning.

An index shows the wide variety of words with which the elements studied are combined in the material. There is a map of counties, as they were before the 1974 reorganization, at the end of the book.


  • Boel Jepson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • (ge)mǣre, Middle English, Old English, charters, onomastics, *rān, mearc, dialectology, the West Riding of Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, hār, rá, rein, *rǣn(e)
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2011 Oct 21
  • Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-7473-165-1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2011-10-21 Time: 13:15 Place: Hörsalen, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lunds universitet External reviewer(s) Name: Coates, Richard Title: Professor Affiliation: University of the West of England ---

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Paradis, C. (First/primary/lead supervisor)

Activity: Examination and supervisionSupervision of PhD students

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