Field Names by Phil Gwilliam


Phil Gwillliam’s Local Field Names and What they Reveal

Meeting of 10th June 2010

Phil farms Drydslade Farm, he told us why there are so many and varied (and sometimes bizarre) names for fields – like house names, they are used to identify, and since a farmer has many fields, often with little to tell them apart, anything can inspire the name. He ran us through some of the EB names:

Cockshut – presumably where pheasants were shot. Wassoils, which according to Phils’ father used to be a farm, is this where the name came from? Wet Sink on Dryslade Farm, where the caves are, is dry; confusingly, 50 yards away is Dry Sink which is very wet. Kill Piece has a little kiln at the far end, so perhaps the name has changed over the years from Kiln Piece. Raven Cliff is self explanatory. Daffy Dingle used to be a good site for the small wild daffodils. Wills Meadow was once owned by Wills tobacco of Bristol.

Old names are lost as farms are sold, sometimes names are carried to new farms, and new names are created. Elevenses field (it is 11 acres) on Bicknor Court Farm is now called Slingit as this is where the animals are ‘slung’ when, for example, waiting for the vet to come.

There is a chapter by Phil on field names in the Parish of English Bicknor in the 20th Century. His research showed that some of the names date back over 500 years. Eric pointed out the medieval field shapes that can be still seen in our landscape, with curving hedges (classic ‘S’ shapes) allowing turning space for the ploughs and oxen (Phil pointed out that these bendy boundaries are not suited to the large modern farm machinery, which means little corners are left as set aside).

The session finished with some inspired guessing at the uses for the terrifying agricultural implements Phil had brought along.

Everyone was asked for any suggestions for subjects for future meetings (local caves was one idea), and what people may like to focus on at our trip to the Archives – please do let Claire or Eric know of any requests. CS