Saxon Bath place names

Bath is justly famous for Georgian architecture and Roman spas but it is less well known that Alfred the Great had a significant hand in the development of the city as we know it. Alfred re-fortified the remains of the Roman town as one of his burhs (forts) listed in the 886 Burghal Hidage and parts of the High St, Westgate St and Stall St still run along the lines laid out by Saxon town planning. There are even traces of Saxon in some central street names (Bilbury Lane was “binnan burh” or “within the fortified place” and Cheap St was Sutor St which means “Shoemakers St”). Alfred’s son Edward the Elder even established a mint in Bath in 910.

However, the most common legacy of the Saxons in Bath is our place names. Here’s a few (and what they mean in Old English) we use constantly today that have their roots in Saxon times;

Lansdown – the long hill

Kelston – the calves place

Odd Down – Odda’s Hill

Combe Down – hill of the valley

Claverton Down – hill above the clover place

Widcombe – wide valley

Lyncombe – valley of the torrent

Bear Flat – barley farm (as the original place name was Berewick)

Pennyquick – Penna’s cow pasture

Weston – the place west of Bath

Larkhall – larks corner

Twerton – once Twiverton or two ford town

Charlcombe – the valley of the churls or carls (free peasants)

Walcot – the dwelling of the foreigners (the word “wealas” was used by Saxons to denote native Britons and/or the Welsh)


Information sourced primarily from Haddon’s Portrait of Bath