England’s soggy historical place names could predict the climate…

Posted: January 4, 2018 by oldbrew in climate, Geology, History, Natural Variation, opinion
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What’s in a place name?


Anglo-Saxon England was unusually warm and stormy. Place names coined then could hold clues to how the weather will get wetter and wilder as the climate changes, says Sott.net. Assuming the weather does do that, of course. The author asks: “Is it a surprise that places with watery names are more prone to flooding?”

It’s blowy on the B4380 to Buildwas, writes Richard Webb in the New Scientist. A keen wind whipping across the floodplain from Shrewsbury flaps a misarranged saddle bag strap against my back wheel.

As I cross the river Severn at Atcham, and bend right down the back road past Wroxeter, a black cloud delivers the first dribbles of rain.

England’s place names are a treasure trove of hidden history – if only we could find the key.

Shrewsbury: recorded in the 10th century as Scrobbesbyrig, the name’s origin is as uncertain as its pronunciation today, but possibly means “the fortified place in the scrub”. Atcham: a contraction of Attingham, “the homestead of Eata’s children”, a puzzling reference to an obscure 7th-century saint from England’s far north. Wroxeter: origin disputed, but a rare Roman place name survival, as befits the site of what was Roman Britain’s fourth largest town. Buildwas: we’ll get to that.

In the title of one of her books, Margaret Gelling, the doyenne of English toponymists, called place names “signposts to the past”. I’m cycling the road to Buildwas because they could be signposts to the future, too.

I take refuge from the now intense, globular rain in the shadow of a large hedge on a bluff overlooking the floodplain just beyond Eyton – a homestead on a raised promontory – on Severn.

Britain is a wet island, and it’s getting wetter. This is just a passing autumn shower, but as global temperatures rise, the paths of the most severe Atlantic storms are hitting the western shores of Britain and Ireland more frequently, often England’s soggy place names could predict the climate future large quantities of rain in short periods.

Continued here.

Comments
  1. Bloke down the pub says:

    Interesting, but the effect of drainage and urbanisation will make any prediction based on the names a bit hit and miss.

  2. graphicconception says:

    The article mentions the Somerset Levels. I believe Somerset comes from words meaning summer land. The implication being that in winter you can no longer call it land because it is usually so waterlogged. Hence, there should have been little surprise when it flooded so badly a few years ago.

  3. TinyCO2 says:

    I’m currently trying to work out why Coventry used to have a lake at its heart in the Roman/Saxon eras. There did seem to be more water arriving but over the years there were ditches dug and then silted up. Businesses extracted water and then stopped. In the past the rivers were continually being mined for building materials. In parts of the center the water table is very close to the surface, even though the rivers are now culveted. It’s very hard to determine what changes to the water system, caused the rivers to run with less water and the lake to vanish. If you can’t understand the past, you can’t predict the future.

  4. oldbrew says:

    ‘but as global temperatures rise, the paths of the most severe Atlantic storms are hitting the western shores of Britain and Ireland more frequently’

    This is a typical unscientific climate assertion, or innuendo, suggesting that as A and B are supposed to have happened, A is related to B. Better understanding of changes in jet stream patterns is needed, not arm-waving claims.

    Over half the years 2001-2010 had more rainfall than 2016, for example. That’s not strictly scientific, but no significant upward trend either.

  5. gwaigau says:

    I was working in London in the late 1990s in a building with deep basements that were beginning to be affected by ground water ingress. Discussions with Thames Water revealed that the water table was rising across the London basin as heavy industries moved out and less and less water was being extracted for their various processes. Every time I hear about drives to conserve water on this rain soaked island I remember that and think how stupid people are. All that water and no way to recover it for use. Water rationing? Bollox.

  6. oldbrew says:

    UK could face a hosepipe ban this summer despite downpours and flooding brought on by Storm Eleanor, Environment Agency warns

    Unless more rain falls water restrictions could be put in place by June

    The South East is in a period of ‘prolonged dry weather’, the agency warned

    The warning comes as Southern Water applied for a drought permit asking the Environment Agency for permission to pump water from Kent rivers

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5239587/The-UK-face-hosepipe-ban-summer.html

    So not the UK, just the South East?

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