Medieval Naming Guides: Names of Places, Things, and Animals

Names of Places, Things, and Animals


A Survey of the History of English Placenames, by Cateline de la Mor la souriete
A good overview of the subject. The bibliography is a good guide for further reading.

Lincolnshire Placenames, by Gunnvôr silfrahárr and Talan Gwynek
A couple hundred placenames, with medieval forms and etymologies.

A Collection of 613 English Borough Names for Use in Locative Bynames, by Frederic Badger
A list of English places that existed before 1650. These are modern spellings; the article suggests sources that may give medieval spellings.

Timothy Pont's Maps
A set of maps of Scotland, with accompanying text descriptions, created in the 1580s and 1590s. An excellent source for placenames in 16th century spellings. (Note: Lowland surnames were often derived from placenames, as they were in English; but in Gaelic, surnames based on placenames were vanishingly rare.) You can browse the maps or texts to find an interesting placename. If you want to find a 16th century spelling of a modern placename, find the modern spelling in the index. The link will take you a list of texts that mention that place, and you can browse the text to find a 16th century spelling, which is generally different from but similar to the modern spelling.

The History of the Celtic Place-names of Scotland, by W. J. Watson; published by the Scottish Place-Name Society
The single best reference available on Celtic place-names in Scotland. The link above leads to his introduction; the rest of the work is organized by geographic region: The same organization also provides an index to place-name elements in Watson's work, presented as a set of PDF files.

Shetland and Orkney Island-Names -- A Dynamic Group by Peder Gammeltoft.
Focuses specifically on how the names of islands differ from the names of other types of locations. The article can be accessed in PDF format here.

Welsh Place Names Index
A discussion of place names mentioned in a 13th century Welsh source. Organized as a dictionary by modern form of the name; the form that follows the headword is the 13th century spelling.

La Guide des Chemins de France, by Charles Estienne
An online edition of a sixteenth-century book on French geography. Written in French with modern table of contents.

Names of Castles found in Troubadour Lyrics, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael, Arval Benicoeur, and Talan Gwynek
A couple dozen placenames from 12th and 13th century Occitan sources.

Mercator's Place Names of Italy in 1554, by Maridonna Benvenuti
Place names transcribed from a 16th century map.

German Place Names from a 16th C Czech Register, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
More than 700 place names mentioned in a 16th century document written in a dialect of Lower Bavarian.

Moorish Place-names in Portugal, by Dom Pedro de Alcazar
Arabic names of administrative districts in Portugal.

Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 2822
A discussion of early Spanish-language place names in North America.

Pre-1600 Place Names Citation in The Barony of Ballinacor, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael.
Latin- and English-language records of place names from County Wicklow, Ireland.

Street names from Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu, by ffride wlffsdotter (Rebecca Lucas)
Medieval street names from what is now Estonia, recorded in Middle Low German, Latin and Polish.

Blaeu Atlas
An edition of a 1645 atlas. Includes indexes by Latin place-names and modern place-names.

Ships, Buildings, and Schools

Merchant Ship Names in the 13th-15th centuries, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
Names of ships from port and customs accounts from three British ports.

Ship Names from 1480-01, by Maridonna Benvenuti
Names of ships recorded in English customs documents.

Names of English Colleges, by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan and Juliana de Luna
Names of English colleges and Inns of Court, including dated citations.

English Sign Names, by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada.
A collection of dated references to inn or tavern names.

Names of Ships in the VOC between 1595 and 1650, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael
Names of ships making outbound journeys from the Netherlands.

Comparison of Inn/Shop/House names found London 1473-1600 with those found in the ten shires surrounding London in 1636, by Margaret Makafee
An extraction of inn sign names from documents listed in Early English Books Online.

English Sign Names From 17th Century Tradesman's Tokens, by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada
Shop, inn, and tavern sign names sorted by pattern and designator.

Clans, Households, Military Units, and the Like

Medieval Gaelic Clan, Household, and Other Group Names, by Effric neyn Kenyeoch vc Ralte
A short discussion of the names used by Gaels for these institutions.

Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof, by Heather Rose Jones
Discusses naming patterns for groups of people in pre-1600 Wales.

History of Orders of Chivalry: A Survey, by Francois Velde
A fine article, which lists most of the historical orders for which there is sound historical evidence. The author is the editor and primary author of Heraldica, an excellent online resource on all matters heraldic. A longer list of order names appears in Project Ordensnamen, by Meradudd Cethin. This article contains some excellent data but must be used with care: Many of the orders listed never really existed or are dated based on fanciful histories created long after the fact. Both articles give order names in modern English forms; medieval forms of some of the names (along with a great deal of information on the subject of medieval chivalric orders) can be found in D'Arcy J. Dacre Boulton, The Knights of the Crown: The monarchical orders of knighthood in later medieval Europe, 1325-1520 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1987. Second revised edition (paperback): Woodbridge, Suffolk and Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2000).

Medieval Names of Some Knightly Orders, by Ursula Georges
Some of the medieval order name forms from Boulton's Knights of the Crown.

Members of Knightly Orders, by Ursula Georges
Terms used to refer to members of knightly orders.

Secular Orders, 1604, by Ursula Georges
Latin names and mottoes of knightly orders from a 1604 broadsheet.

Medieval Secular Order Names, by Juliana de Luna.
An extensive article covering names of medieval secular orders from all parts of Europe, including period citations of their names where known.

Naming the Honourable Artillery Company, by Duncan Macquarrie
The various ways this company was identified in documents from 1537 to 1647.

Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 2442
Discusses the names of late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English military units.

Names from an Early 16th C Census of Rome: Household Names, by Aryanhwy merch Catmael.
A short collection of names of Italian housesholds, companies, taverns, and hostarias from the early 16th C.

Some House Names from a 16th-Century Italian Armorial, by Coblaith Muimnech.
Household names from Milan and Rome in Latin, and from Florence and Pisa in Italian.

Titles and Styles of Rank

Academy of S. Gabriel report 2853
Some discussion of medieval French titles.

Academy of S. Gabriel report 2813
Research on Gaelic titles that could be used as equivalents to princess.

Academy of S. Gabriel report 2455
Research on Gaelic titles that could be used as equivalents to baroness, as part of a broader discussion of pre-Norman Irish titles of nobility.

Academy of S. Gabriel report 2046
Research on titles used by Jews in early medieval Iberia.

Academy of S. Gabriel report 1891
Some discussion of how titles were used in Arabic names. This was a followup to an earlier report, 1786, which also contains some remarks on titles.

Academy of S. Gabriel report 1447
Late period English equivalents to the terms treasurer and marshal.

Italian Titles of Nobility
A discussion of Italian titles, including some discussion of late-period usage.

Heraldic Titles from the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Overview, by Juliana de Luna
A study of heraldic titles of all ranks from England, Scotland, France, Iberia, Germany, Italy, the Low Countries, and Scandinavia.

The Medieval Names Archive is published by the Academy of Saint Gabriel and Sara L. Uckelman. It was historically published by Joshua Mittleman.
© 1997-2013. Copyright on individual articles belongs to their authors.