Institute for Name-Studies

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.

Dictionary of Suffolk Place-Names_466x335


The Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History (SIAH) invited the English Place-Name Society (EPNS) to propose a project to produce a volume on the place-names of Suffolk.  The Councils of the SIAH and EPNS considered the project at their meeting in July and August 2013, and after amendments suggested by both bodies, agreed to co-sponsor such a project. The project was funded by the SIAH (£25,000) and the researchers were employed, supervised, and supported by the School of English at the University of Nottingham.

Project Aims

The project aimed to produce, from EPNS collections and other sources as appropriate, a volume covering the major names of Suffolk (including interesting, lost, historical, and minor names, and the names of landscape features, greens, and commons, as well as settlements). Dr Briggs had significant collections of material relating to Suffolk and was working towards the production of a major-names dictionary. He agreed to share his work and be involved in the project as the first-named author of the book.

Research Collaborations

A half-time research post was advertised in September 2014, and, from a strong field, Dr Kelly Kilpatrick was appointed to begin work in January 2015. Dr Kilpatrick worked in collaboration with the book's lead author, Dr Keith Briggs (a member of the Councils of both SIAH and EPNS). There were some initial issues with software, but these were resolved as Dr Kilpatrick worked with the various sources and began producing the entries for the dictionary. A meeting was held in Suffolk on 1 July 2015, bringing together representatives of the SIAH and the EPNS, and the draft entries and presentation style were accepted and a second tranche of funding agreed to see the work through to completion.

Review Stage

By early January 2016, the entries for the dictionary were complete, and the introduction written. The expert review panel (Prof Richard Coates, EPNS; Dr Peder Gameltoft, place-name expert, Danish Place-Name Survey; Dr Edward Martin, Suffolk local historian; Dr Gillian Fellows-Jensen, EPNS and Danish Place-Name Survey) had seen and commented on the etymologies and other content. Photographs from Dr Edward Martin were inserted where appropriate in the text.

Editing Stage

In February 2016, Dr Cavill completed the detailed editing of the work, including lists of place-name elements and presonal names, and the book is presently being printed. The Suffolk Institute's Wheeler Conference on 23rd April 2016 will be the book's launch event among other things.

Research Contributions

The book will provide 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.



Keith Briggs and Kelly Kilpatrick, A Dictionary of Suffolk Place-Names, ed. by Paul Cavill, Popular Series, Vol. 6 (Nottingham: English Place-Name Society, 2016)

Dictionary of Suffolk Place-NamesThis new title (2016) appears in the excellent series of county dictionaries published by the English Place-Name Society, drawing on their huge archive of material as well as new research by Keith Briggs. The book contains a historical introduction, examining the linguistic and pronunciation aspects of the science as well as the sources, and each dictionary entry includes early forms and an explanation of the name's etymology. The book also has many colour pictures of the locations, maps and historic prints and covers all the parishes of the historic county. There are appendices on elements and personal names found within the place-names. This scholarly book is a major contribution to local history and place-name science.

ISBN 10: 0 904889 91 2
ISBN 13: 978 0 904889 91 8
218 pp.
Publication date: 20 April 2016


Future Research

The Dictionary of Suffolk Place-Names goes beyond previous work by Walter W. Skeat, Eilert Ekwall, A. D. Mills, and Victor Watts, and lays the foundations for a second volume containing minor names: funding of £2,500 contributing to this has already been generously granted by the 'British Identities - Communication and Culture from the Archipelago to the Globe' (BICCAG) Research Priority Area at the University of Nottingham. The dictionary should also contribute towards a future EPNS place-name survey.


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