Saturday, June 25, 2022

Field Names in Dodderhill

An analysis of local field names describes an agricultural landscape – land cleared from the forest, producing a pattern of strip farming prior to the eventual enclosure of land. In the valleys there was marshy ground where withies (willows) grew. Some new plantations were created and rabbits were farmed for food. Brine was found locally and salt was extracted.

This is a history told from a selection of the 240 field names found in the 1845 Tithe Award for Dodderhill.

Brine Pit
Brine is a saline solution from which salt is extracted by evaporation. Salt was a valuable commodity for it was used to preserve food at a time when ice, fridges and freezers were not available. Droitwich was the main centre for salt production, but brine pits in Dodderhill suggest that the salt produced was used in local cheese making.

Catchems End
At one time criminals could escape from the parish and avoid any penalties by crossing the parish boundary. Catchems End indicates the last place to catch criminals before they could escape local justice.

Coney is a rabbit, so this name identifies a place where rabbits were bred and grown for food.

Devil’s Den
Date unknown, but may indicate that the Saxons thought the surviving features in the landscape (such as earthworks and old buildings) indicated supernatural activity.

Osier Bed
Osiers, or withies, were willow or hazel trees which were pollarded to be used for wicker work. It is likely that the withies were woven into the baskets which transported salt from Droitwich across the Midlands.

Missing Image – view of old withy trees – reproduced with permission – TO BE INSERTED HERE

A view taken of old withy trees beside the River Salwarpe, Dodderhill in about 1945

Perry Field
Perry indicates that pears were once grown here, and used in the production of perry – a light fermented drink like cider (which is made from apples).

Poors Land
This land had been allocated/bequeathed so that the rental income received could be used to help the poor of the parish in the days before the State provided benefits. It was a time when poor people had to be supported by the parish, and a time when the poor from other areas were a burden on the parish and so unwanted.

Pulley Close
A clearing in wooded land with a pool, which was enclosed.

Shuck could be from Scucca which means goblin. The burrow may derive from byrig which usually becomes bury or burrow – a defended or defensible place.

The Sling
A narrow piece of land

Spittal Close
Spittal indicates a hospital and the close or closure may have belonged to St Mary’s Hospital which was closed in 1535 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Toll Close
Road tolls were probably collected here in mediaeval times.

Walk Mills Meadow
Walk Mills was built in 1474. It was a fulling mill used to produce cloth, which would have needed to be stretched on tenterhooks and left to dry. Was this a meadow which could be used to dry the fabric?

Withey Furlong, Withey Meadow, Withey Close
See Osier Bed

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