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Cornish Place-names

  • J. E. Gover

The archaeological interest of place-names has been dealt with by Mr Crawford in his article ‘ Place-names and Archaeology ’ published by the English Place-name S0ciety.l In that article numerous words associated with prehistoric or ancient remains are grouped together and their meanings discussed in detail, but up to the present time very few attempts have been made to deal with words of a similar kind in Cornwall.

In the course of several years’ study of the place-names of Cornwall I have amassed a considerable amount of evidence which may help to throw light on the dark period of Cornish history prior to the English conquest. As some years may elapse before the results of this survey are published, a brief discussion of some of the more interesting names in the county and in particular those names which have an archaeological or historical significance, may be of interest, and at the same time indicate in what direction future work of this kind should lie.

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1 Place-name Society, I, part I, 143.

2 For an gaer, i.e. the caer, the definite article causing ‘lenition’ of the initial consonant.

* It would be interesting to learn whether any prehistoric or Roman earthworks or finds are known at these ‘Carlyons’ and ‘Merthens’. Perhaps some readers can help?—ED.

3 isel, ‘low’ (?)

4 Milioc, personal name.

5 Maeldaf, personal name : (*Maglo-tamos).

Compare also the MILIDVNVM of Ravennas, which lay somewhere in the West country.—ED.

6 Due to the use of the word in the Welsh Bible.

7 So called in the Life of St. Sampson. Now Trigg hundred.

8 ‘broad’.

9 ‘Lew’, personal name.

10 ‘wolf’.

11 In addition to the names cited, the following car- names originally had the prefix crug-, which became corrupted into car- (mounds, therefore, not camps should be looked for in the vicinity):—Carcadè (Davidstow); Cargibbet (St. Ive); Cargurral (Gerrans); Carkeval (St. Kew); Carlennick (Creed); Carloggas (Mawgan in Pyder); Cartuther (Menheniot).

* The holed stone still exists and was illustrated in ANTIQUITY, I, 230. See also a note on ‘Holed Stones’ by Mr J.T. Blight, published as appendix I of the 44th report of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (1862), pp. 24-7.—ED.

12 The definite article an, understood, causes ‘lenition’ of the initial consonant.

13 Ptolemy, ii, 3 § 30.

14 Camden, Britain (1607), 189.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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