Responding to modern flooding: Old English place-names as a repository for Traditional Ecological Knowledge
journal contributionposted on 2016-11-17, 16:12 authored by Richard L.C. Jones
Place-names are used to communicate Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) by all indigenous, aboriginal and First Nations people. Here and for the first time, English place-names are examined through a TEK lens. Specifically, place-names formed in Old English—the language of the Anglo-Saxon—and coined between c. 550 and c. 1100 A.D., are explored. This naming horizon provides the basic name stock for the majority of English towns and villages still occupied today. While modern English place-names now simply function as convenient geographical tags Old English toponymy is shown here to exhibit close semantic parallels with many other indigenous place-names around the world. Seeing Old English place-names as a hitherto unrecognized and unexploited repository of TEK may have exciting and important consequences. By identifying the climatic and meteorological correspondences that can be drawn between the period of place-naming and the present day, this paper explores how early medieval water and woodland names might offer new perspectives on, and perhaps solutions to, flooding, the most serious environmental threat currently facing the UK.
This paper results from research currently being undertaken as part of the Leverhulme Trust-funded Flood and flow: place-names and the changing hydrology of river-systems project (RPG-2016-004).
CitationJournal of Ecological Anthropology, 18, no. 1 (2016)
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of History
- VoR (Version of Record)