We say our city’s name on a daily basis - yet how often do we stop to think about its origins?
Peterborough began as a Saxon settlement. The Saxons built a village called Medehamstede, “place of the spring by the river”.
Around 655AD an abbey was built next to it. The abbey was plundered by the Danes in 870 and was then abandoned.
A new abbey was built in 972 and a village grew nearby. In around 1000AD a wall was built around the settlement to protect it from the attacks of the Danes.
It was called St Peters burgh, burgh being the Saxon word for a fortified settlement.
The Abbot allowed the people of the nearby village to have a market and Peterborough was born.
The Abbey was destroyed by fire in 1116 by an army of Saxons and Danes and construction of the present cathedral was commenced, but was not completed till early in the 16th century.
The Penguin Dictionary of British Place Names, written by historian Adrian Room, reveals that Pode Hole – a village near Spalding – actually means toad’s swamp, and Eye is Anglo-Saxon for “raised land above the fen”.
All the towns and villages ending in ‘by’ or ‘thorpe’ have Scandinavian origins, while Castor is derived from the old Saxon name for a Roman castle or fort. Villages with ‘end’ in their name usually refer to the end of a drove or road across the dry land near the Fens.
The name Peakirk comes from St Pega’s Church, which is in the village, while Thornhaugh means an enclosure defended by a thorn hedge.