Monday, April 24, 2017

The surprising origins of London's oldest place names

The Telegraph

Thames may mean something as simple as "flowing" CREDIT: JAVEN - FOTOLIA
When you start thinking about London place names, you realise that they pose endless questions. Was Cheapside once cheap? Who were the knights in Knightsbridge? And where does a name like Piccadilly come from?
Names like this – indeed, any place names – are inextricably linked to history. They answer questions such as "why is it here?" or "who lived here?" London place names are more fun than most, because they cover a period of over 2,000 years and tell us all sorts of things about how our capital developed.
The early history of London is vague. We know that the Romans called it Londinium and that it was a busy trading centre in their time. But Londinium is a Latin version of an older Celtic name; attempts to explain its meaning have occupied scholars for centuries. Current best guess is "settlement at the unfordable part of the river", which would certainly be geographically accurate: the lowest fordable point on the Thames was about 2 miles upstream from Londinium.
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