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PhD in English

Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham


Thesis Title

The Arboreal Toponym: place-name evidence for the exploitation and management of trees in early medieval England

Thesis Description

Are Ashton and Acton settlements indicative of Anglo-Saxon timber production?

Did the Vikings cultivate orchards in England?

What does Old English hnutu 'nut' mean in place-names?


My research explores onomastic evidence for the social, cultural, environmental and economic importance of trees within the physical and ideological landscape of early medieval England. It considers their use as monuments and resources, and their role in landscape management.

I am entering my second year of research and have thus far compiled a database of major names that reference a tree species or woodland management technique, and which are first attested by the end of the twelfth century. The data will be mapped and analysed in conjunction with regional case-studies that allow for the consideration of geological and climatic influences on tree growth and species prevalence. This comprehensive approach to the material will contribute to our understanding of early medieval perceptions and uses of trees and their place within the medieval landscape.

My thesis will consider:

  • The environmental and cultural role of trees in early medieval society.
  • The types of tree that gave rise to place-names and what can we learn from these names about tree vocabulary.
  • The strengths and limitations of place-name evidence in answering questions about the early medieval environment and ecology.



Dr John Baker (University of Nottingham)

Dr Jayne Carroll (University of Nottingham)

Dr Richard Jones (University of Leicester)



  • Viking Horticulture? 'Orchard' place-names in the Danelaw, Midlands Viking Symposium (University of Nottingham 2018)


  • Reviews: 
    • Redmonds, G. (2017)  A Vocabulary of Wood, Wood-Workers and Wood Management in Yorkshire. Donington: Shaun Tyas. 
    • Williamson, T., G. Barnes and T. Pillatt (2017) Trees in England: Management and disease since 1600. Hertfordshire: University of Hertfordshire Press.

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities

  • Outreach Activity Leader for the Staffordshire Place-Name Project (
  • Ordinary Member of the Committee, Society for Name-Studies in Britain and Ireland (
  • Co-compiler of the bibliographies for the SNSBI journal, Nomina, and the English Place-Name Society’s Journal of English Place-Names.


Other Research Interests

  • Anglo-Saxon England
  • Icelandic Sagas
  • Landscape Archaeology
  • Classical and early medieval medicine
  • Palaeography
  • Arboriculture


University email address:

Twitter: @JessicaTreacher






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