Institute for Name-Studies
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Research Projects

Current Projects


A two-year research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust involving the universities of Leicester, Nottingham, Southampton, and Wales.


A three-year interdisciplinary research project, funded by The Leverhulme Trust.


A one-year Arts and Humanities Research Council Follow-on Funding project working with schoolteachers and other childhood educators in Shropshire, providing place-name resources for schools in support of the National Curriculum.


A volunteer project at the Staffordshire Record Office, collecting data for the English Place-Name Society survey of Staffordshire.


An Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project to complete the Survey of English Place-Names for Shropshire.


Past Research Projects

Beyond the Burghal Hidage: Anglo-Saxon Civil Defence in the Viking Age

This project was based at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. It aimed to investigate the landscape of military organisation in England in the late Anglo-Saxon period, combining archaeological and onomastic approaches. In Nottingham, Dr John Baker completed a 3-year research fellowship (2005-2008) with this project, under the direction of Dr David Parsons.


Digital Exposure of English Place-Names (DEEP)

This project, funded by JISC, ran from November 2011 to October 2013 and saw the digitisation of the Survey of English Place-Names. Through digitising the Survey, which was already much used by name‑studies specialists and scholars in the related fields of History, Archaeology, Linguistics, and Historical Geography, this project aimed to open up the resource to a much wider audience. It was a collaborative venture with the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis (Queen's University Belfast), the Language Technology Group and EDINA (both at the University of Edinburgh), and the Centre for e-Research, now Digital Humanities (King's College London). Work on the digital Survey continues at the University of Nottingham.


The Impact of Diasporas

The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain was a major multidisciplinary research programme funded by The Leverhulme Trust and based at the University of Leicester. The overall aim of the project was to conduct research into the impact of ancient diasporas on the cultural and population history of Britain and how these events have shaped identities in the British Isles both in the past and in the present. What made the programme unique was its principal purpose to bring together the expertise from a number of different disciplines in order to create a fuller picture of the complex origins of the British people.


The Key to English Place‑Names (KEPN)

The Key project was initially developed in 2004-2005, and was generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The Key itself consists of a searchable database accessed through a clickable map and associated dialogue boxes. This database draws on the work of the EPNS and other INS researchers and is intended to provide an up-to-date guide to the interpretation of the names of English cities, towns, and villages. In 2012, the Key was re-launched with a Google maps interface. Visit it now to discover the origins and meanings of hundreds of English place‑names!


Landscapes of Governance: Assembly Sites in England, 5th-11th Centuries

This three-year interdisciplinary research project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and was a collaborative venture between the Institute of Archaeology at University College London (UCL) and the INS at the University of Nottingham. It brought archaeology, place-names, and written sources together in a national study of early medieval assembly sites.


Perceptions of Place: English Place‑Name Study and Regional Variety

This project was generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and ran from September 2005 to August 2010. One of the main aims of the project was to publish five new volumes of the Survey of English Place‑Names. These volumes cover areas of County Durham, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Dorset, and Shropshire. The research also helped to set the agenda for a major international conference on place‑name study in England and related neighbouring lands (including Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands). The conference was held in Nottingham in June 2010; the keynote lectures have been published in Perceptions of Place: twenty-first-century interpretations of English place-name studies, ed. by Jayne Carroll and David N. Parsons (2013).


The Suffolk Place-Names Project

This one-year collaborative research project set out to produce an edited volume of the major place-names of Suffolk. Taking place between January 2015 and January 2016, the project was funded by the Suffolk Institute of Archeaology and History, and supported by the School of English at the University of Nottingham. The major output of this project was A Dictionary of Suffolk Place-Names (Nottingham: EPNS, 2016), a book that provides an authoritative and up-to-date scholarly resource for researchers in fields as diverse as local and family history, documentary, fiscal and social records, dialect, archaeology, regional geography and development.


Vocabulary of English Place-Names

The Vocabulary is a dictionary of the words that make up England's place‑names. Not only does it contribute to the historical study of languages such as Norse, French, British Celtic, Irish, and Latin, but it also provides material of great interest to many historians, geographers, and archaeologists concerned with the landscape, settlement, and society of England over many centuries.


The Whittlewood Project

This project, based at the Centre for English Local History (University of Leicester), was established to investigate the pattern of medieval settlement in an area covering 11 parishes straddling the Northants/Bucks boundary. It involved close collaboration between archaeologists, historians, and the INS, which gave particular advice on place‑names. In addition, the INS established a postgraduate studentship, which was awarded to Eleanor Forward, who completed her thesis on the names of the Whittlewood area in 2007, under the direction of Dr David Parsons. 


External Funding

Since 1999, the INS has secured significant external funding for a number of its research projects. Details and figures can be viewed below.

External funding awarded since 1999


Survey of English Place‑Names




Vocabulary of English Place‑Names




Vocabulary of English Place‑Names

Private bequest



A Key to English Place‑Names




A Key to English Place‑Names

British Academy



Anglo-Saxon Civil Defence


£90,119 [part total to collaborative project with UCL]


Perceptions of Place




Vocabulary of English Place‑Names




Landscapes of Governance


£119,022 [part of total to collaborative project with UCL]


The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain


£81,201 [part of total to collaborative project with University of Leicester]


Digital Exposure of English Place‑Names


£180,000 approx. [part of total to collaborative project with KCL, QUB, and Edinburgh]


The place-names of Shropshire





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