Hill-terms in the place-names of Berwickshire

Grannd, Dàibhidh MacGriogair (2022) Hill-terms in the place-names of Berwickshire. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Place-Names in the Landscape (PNL, 1984), Margaret Gelling claims the high number of topographical elements deployed in coining early English settlement-names is a verifiable system that differentiates specific types of hills, valleys, water-features, etc. Thus: hōh 'heel' is a hill-spur with a concave scarp falling away from a dip-slope summit; denu 'dean' is a long narrow valley with a mostly gentle gradient and moderately steep sides; ēg 'island' can signify an area of raised ground in wet country. In collaboration with Ann Cole, Gelling amassed and interpreted over 6,300 examples of topographical settlement-names in a companion volume, The Landscape of Place-Names (LPN, 2000). These two works propose that an Old English settlement-naming system can still largely be traced in the modern landscape. This thesis examines whether this is possible, not only in England but also in the Scottish county of Berwickshire (BWK) where Old English place-names similarly occur. Focusing on hill-terms, the research seeks to answer whether systematic naming – the 'Gelling-Cole Hypothesis' (GCH) – operated in Berwickshire; if all hill-terms fall within its scope; whether it originated in the earliest Old English period (as asserted); and if statistical analysis can be used to validate it scientifically. Identification of some 2,031 landforms referenced by hill-terms precedes a characterization of their physical attributes using an adaptation of GRASS GIS software (r.geomorphon). This automatically generates 11 parameters for each landform without direct researcher intervention. The resulting metrics are compared using a model of statistical hypothesis testing. Heterogeneity between individual place-name elements is examined; a key claim being that synonyms are inadmissible to the naming system. Homogeneity between 1,011 relief-feature examples cited by Gelling and Cole and 490 Berwickshire place-names with equivalent generics is also tested to establish whether the same phenomenon is observable in Scotland. Implicit and explicit assumptions touching upon chronology, causality, and the interaction of historical languages both in Scotland and England are explored towards provisional conclusions regarding the scope and possible origins of topographical settlement-naming.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Hough, Prof. Carole and Taylor, Dr. Simon
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82861
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 May 2022 08:44
Last Modified: 13 May 2022 09:00
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82861
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82861

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