School of English

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Abigail Lloyd

Research Student,


Research Summary

Current Status

PhD - currently registered

Research Topic

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

Research Summary

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.

Abigail Lloyd (@Abi_on_a_hill) / Twitter

Research Interests

Historical languages and language evolution


Hills, landscape and geology

Early Medieval and Medieval history and archaeology

Historical buildings, churches and their conservation

Research Supervisors

Dr Jayne Carroll

Dr John Baker

Dr Richard Jones

Research Institutes, Centres and/or Research Clusters Memberships

The Institute for Name-Studies

The English Place-Name Society

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

The Society for Church Archaeology


The Undercrofts of Westgate Street, Gloucester: Historic Buildings Assessment, Historic England Research Reports RRS 31/2023, (2023)​

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' 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.


​'How to find a medieval settlement by the name of a hill? A challenge to the Gelling and Cole hypothesis' given at the Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference, 20th-21st April 2023, University of Oxford.

'A Changing Scene: Charting Oronyms in Leicestershire' given at the Leicestershire's Names, Places and History Conference, 22nd April 2023, hosted by the English Place-Name Society, University of Nottingham and the Centre for Regional and Local History at the University of Leicester.

'The essence of berg- and dūn- names: Why profile is not key' (Poster) at the conference - A hundred years of names and places: celebrating the English Place-Name Society, hosted at the University of Nottingham in conjunction with the British Academy, 9th September 2023.

'Medieval 'road signs' - Travelling by the name of a hill: Does it work and, if not, what does that mean?'' (Paper) Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, 17th February 2024.

'Life goes on? Landscape and language use following a linguistic "invasion" as revealed through place-names.' (Paper) The Háskóli Íslands Student Conference on the Medieval North, Iceland, 11th-13th April 2024.

'Learning from Celtic predecessors or creation from scratch: What then is a dūn?' (Paper) Society for Name Strudies in Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 10th-12th May 2024.

Additional Information

Currently, Research Affiliate in the Institute for Name Studies and for the English Place-Name Society. Developing a web app for place-names. Collecting and recording historic place-name forms from Medieval records for the Staffordshire project. Indexing REF publications: volumes of the Shropshire survey, and a work on Welsh place-names.

Working on the High Street Heritage Action Zone with Gloucestershire City Council and Historic England, improving public awareness and understanding of the rich and early heritage on Westgate Street, Gloucester.

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.

Member of the statutory Rules Committee, making rules for the Faculty Jurisdiction.

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

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.

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


​Tutoring equity and trusts for Fitzwilliam, Kings and Lucy Cavendish Colleges, Cambridge University (2002-2004).

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

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

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 (2022-ongoing).

Course tutor and team leader for the Public Inquiry workshop, Oxford University Continuing Education Courses in the Historic Environment (2022-ongoing).

Teaching ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online to academics and researchers in the Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham and for the English Place-Name Society (2023).

Post-Graduate Teaching Assistant: 'The Beginnings of English' core undergraduate module, School of English, University of Nottingham (2023-2024).


MSc Landscape Archaeology (Oxford) (2019-2021): Distinction.

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).

BSc (Hons) Maths (2012-2015): First

BA (Hons) Theology (focussing on Ancient Near Eastern languages, history and archaeology) (Oxford) (2008-2010 as a Senior Status Student): First

Practised as a Commercial Chancery Barrister, Maitland Chambers, Lincoln's Inn.

Bar Vocational Course Post-Graduate Diploma (Inns of Court School of Law) (2003): Outstanding

BA (Hons) Law (Cambridge) (1999-2002): First

Funding Body:

M4C AHRC Doctoral Studentship (2021)

Abigail Lloyd - M4C (

School of English

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