Describe and account for the nature and distribution of Scandinavian elements in English place names

Essay by sophkingUniversity, Bachelor'sB, December 2008

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Describe and account for the nature and distribution of Scandinavian elements in English place names.

The influx of Danes and Norwegians during the ninth century was a major influence on English place names. In order to understand the Scandinavian element manifested in English place names we must take a brief look at the history of their influence upon England. A great period of unrest is thought to have occurred within the Scandinavian Peninsula, towards the end of the Old English period. This led to a series of invasions by boat of the surrounding coastal regions. The bold and enterprising seafarers became known as Vikings and the period of their invasions and conquests, the Viking Age.

The first attacks may have been to plunder and steal treasure, but soon individuals began to settle permanently in England. For seven years the Vikings plundered, invaded and conquered. The victories were not entirely Scandinavian, for example in the year 878 King Alfred defeated the Danish Army under Guthrum.

This led to the signing of a treaty that marked a line running roughly from Cheshire to London where the invaders were to remain to the East. This area was to be subject to Dane law and was therefore known as Danelaw. A third stage of invasions broke the treaty as Guthrum launched a fresh set of invasions that were counteracted by Edward the Elder who was victorious at the battle of Brunaburh in 937.

All of these invasions and counterattacks led to a great Danish population in the east , once more ruled by the English. This by no means left the country in peace. A mighty Viking fleet came ashore in 991, attacking the southeast coast of England. This was followed by a uniting of the king of Norway and Denmark, Svein, in...