Dear Keith, Dear All,
Can't help with the -ilde, but there are other instances of females (presumably legendary) connected with old roads. Grundy (Proc. of the Dorset NHAS 58 (1936) p117) notes Sevene Street for Ackling Dyke in a South Damerham charter and Seven Diche near the same feature in a Sixpenny Handley one of 956 (S513 and 609 respectively, probably). He thinks there was a mythical Sevenna, although as the area was called Seven Ditches into modern times this assumes that later folk-etymology was at work. Then there are the Sarn Elens in Wales, which derive from the queen Elen/ Helen in The Dream of Macsen Wledig. Giant women who go around building landscape features are not uncommon - often linked with the story that some cairn or other consists of stones that fell when their apron strings broke, as in Barclodiad y Gawres in Anglesey and some Irish Cailleach names. In Grottasongr, the giantesses Menja and Fenja, chained to the mill, reminisce about the days when they used to move rocks and stones. I doubt whether there's a unified tradition at work here; it seems that people just liked linking ancient monuments with the queens and otherworldly women of former days.
Jeremy Harte

From: The English Place-Name List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Keith Briggs
Sent: 06 October 2008 10:19
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: -ild ways

The names of two or three ancient ways end in -(h)ilde, -ield etc:

Icknield Way: Ic(c)enhilde 903 PN Herts 6, BedsHunts 4, Cambs 24
Icknield, Ryknild Street: Worcs 2
Buckle Street: Buggilde stret 709 Gloucs i.16, Worcs 2.

In northern France many roads (probably mostly Roman) are called Chaussée Brunehaut (see e.g. S. Gendron, La toponymie des voies romaines at médiévales, Errance 2006, p.130).   This Germanic name is of course Brunhilde.   Could there be any significance in this coincidence?



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