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Abigail Lloyd

Languages and Literature, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Investigating hill toponyms and their use as medieval settlement-names.

Place-names arose as descriptive labels in everyday speech, and provide an unparalleled insight into historical perceptions and use of the landscape, as well as its social, economic and cultural significance. A very large proportion of English settlements are named from landscape features, using specialised and nuanced vocabulary. Focusing on a major subset of this corpus, place-names referring to hills, my research explores the processes by which medieval settlements (which could vary in morphology, status, function and so on) came to be associated with and acquire the names of precisely – and often subtly – defined topography.

This work builds on the important work of others, but uses newly available data and technologies to test and refine existing theories. I am in the middle of a systematic national survey of a targeted group of names, after which case-studies may well be selected. Name data, from the assembled corpora, will be combined with archaeological, geological and historical records and mapping to refine the possible locations of Early Medieval settlement and routeways. GIS software is used, together with site visiting, to test visibility of settlements and hills to and from each other and the wider landscape and routeways.

In particular, I hope to establish the geographical and temporal extent of language nuance and uniformity and to try to quantify where, when and why patterns change. I also hope to contribute towards understanding the role that visibility might have played in the naming of settlements with reference to hills. 

Research Area

  • History and Development of the English Language
  • Languages and Literature


Review of Townley, S. (ed), 2022, The Victoria History of the County of Oxford: Volume XX, The South Oxfordshire Chilterns: Caversham, Goring, and Area in the Agricultural History Review 71.1

Stonyborow: a clue to a Roman settlement in rural Oxfordshire? The symbiotic relationship between field-names and archaeological data’ The Journal of the English Place-Name Society, 52, (2021), 5-20

‘High Wood: Some Documentary Research’ in the SOAG Bulletin, Vol. 73, (2019)

‘Explaining Re Rose: The Search Goes On?’ in the Cambridge Law Journal, July 2003

Public Engagement & Impact

Research Affiliate in the Institute for Name Studies and for the English Place-Name Society: Developing a web app for public access (at all levels of interest) to place-names in Shropshire and Staffordshire with potential to be expanded elsewhere in England. Helping to collect medieval name-forms for the Staffordshire survey with other members of the public, using local archives and The National Archive. Indexing volumes of the Shropshire survey, including work on Welsh place-names.

Presentations on vernacular and ecclesiastical historical buildings for Oxfordshire Buildings Record.

Lectures and talks on place-name research and the historic landscape for local history and archaeology groups and societies.

Teaching on historic buildings and landscape on the fieldweeks for the MSc in Applied Landscape of Archaeology, University of Oxford and for the Undergraduate Certificate in Archaeology.     

Teaching the use and benefits of lime in traditional buildings, including the lime cycle for the SPAB/National Trust plastering course at Coleshill.

Course tutor and team leader for the Public Inquiry workshop, Oxford University Continuing Education Courses in the Historic Environment.

Teaching ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online to academics and researchers. 

Gallery lectures and talks to all interested on Ancient Near Eastern languages, history and archaeology at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2012-2016).

Lecturing on Levantine history at St. Mellitus College, London (including taking participants around the evidence in the British Museum) (2008-2010).

Lecturing at a popular level on aesthetics, law and philosophy at Friday Forum, St Andrew Holborn, City of London (2007-2010). (I co-set up this lecture series in the heart of the City.)

Other Research Interests


Hills, landscape and geology

Early Medieval and Medieval history and archaeology

Historical buildings (vernacular and otherwise), churches and their conservation


Member of The English Place-Name Society: Collecting and recording historic place-name forms from Medieval records for the Staffordshire project and indexing volumes of the Shropshire survey. 

And a member of The International Council of Onomastic Sciences, The Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland, The Scottish Place-Name Society, The Medieval Settlement Research Group, The Landscape Survey Group, The Society for Landscape Studies, The Vernacular Architecture Group, The Scottish Vernacular Working Buildings Group, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, The Churches Conservation Trust and The Society for Church Archaeology


Secretary of State nominated member of the Statutory Advisory Committee and the Church Buildings Council, advising on history, architecture, archaeology and aesthetics relating to national historic churches.

Chair of the Oxford Diocesan Advisory Committee (2022 - ) advising the Chancellor on historic churches within the faculty jurisdiction (ecclesiastical equivalent of listed buildings protection), and the nominee of the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies on the same (2020-2022).

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Guardian sitting on the SPAB Casework Committee.

Member of the Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society's Listed Building Committee commenting on applications relating to listed buildings, heritage assets and conservation areas.

Member of the Oxfordshire Buildings Record Committee, recording historical buildings and carrying out academic research into their history.

Affiliate of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

Recording assistance working with the Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Northamptonshire.

Field worker for the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture of Britain and Ireland.

Research assistance for the Oxfordshire Victoria County History (2019).

Surveying, recording, GIS and documentary research for the South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group at a Romano-British temple site in the Chilterns (2019-2021).