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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 arise as descriptive labels in everyday speech, and provide an unparalleled insight to historical understanding and perceptions of the landscape and 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 extent of language nuance and uniformity and to try to quantify where, when and why patterns break down. 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


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

‘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: 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. 

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

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 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


Member of the Oxford Diocesan Advisory Committee advising on historic churches. 

Member of the Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society's Listed Building Committee commenting on development impacts on historic buildings and areas.

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

Recording assistant 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).