53 Pages

Place-Names and the History of Scandinavian Settlement in England *

WithLesley Abrams, David N. Parsons

Students of the Viking Age have an especially blank canvas on which to sketch out their hypotheses about settlement and society in Anglo-Scandinavian England. In the almost complete absence of written sources which bear on these aspects of the Scandinavian settlement, historians have looked to place-names for solutions. Alternative chronologies, such as that proposed by Hadley, include the proliferation of Norse names during the period of Anglo-Scandinavian cultural assimilation in the 1th and early 11th centuries. Hadley’s recent examinations of naming-processes have moved away from the traditional attribution of Scandinavian place-names to the language practices of Norse-speaking populations and instead stressed the role of fashion in their formation. The apparent restriction of sokeland to Scandinavian areas in England ‘proves absolutely nothing’, Kapelle has asserted, because these regions might have been distinctive before the arrival of the Danes. ‘The Scandinavian influence on English place-names may therefore be evidence not of expanding settlement but of changing ownership.’.