Many Place Names Originated from Old Norse in the British Isles

Posted by Ms Elly on

Many Place Names Originated from Old Norse in the British Isles

During the glory of the Vikings, around the 9th and 10th century, they sailed their sea serpents. Their traces that have survived the test of time include the names for many places. The names of the places just remind us of the Viking age and the Norse mythology. 

What we can see from these place names is that the Vikings didn't go there to raid only. They came there to settle down, spreading their tradition and learning more things from this new land.

Place names that originated in Old Norse language in British Isles

According to research conducted in 2017, the scholars suggested that as many as 35,000 Vikings might have settled down or relocated on the site of England. Maybe the initial motivation of theirs was to raid this plot of land. But they finally chose England to be their settling-down spot. 

From this point, we can see how great the Vikings influenced English language and culture. This includes both the place and the personal names.

When they arrived at England, they met the local there who spoke Old English. According to the archaeologists and linguists, Old Norse language and Old English language somewhat resembled. Until today, there are words of the name places combining both old languages. 

Some suffixes that scholars have believed to be originated in Old Norse languages include: 

  • -by: farmstead, village. For example: Asgarby in Lincolnshire
  • -kirk: church. For example: Falkirk (a large town in Scotland), Colkirk in Norfolk, England
  • -ness: headland. For example: Durness in Scotland, Skegness in Lincolnshire
  • -thorp: second home. For example: Mablethorpe, Bishopthorpe
  • -tolf: homestead. For example: Wigtolf, Lowestolf
  • -wick: bay. For example: Lerwick, Winwick

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