English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.


Early-attested site in the Parish of Dorchester St Peter & All Saints

Historical Forms

  • Memburi, Membury 1333 Ct
  • Mambury 1382,1431 ib
  • Mambury or Maumbury 1774 Hutch1
  • Maumbury Rings 1877 TA
  • Maumberry 1650 ParlSurv
  • Maumbiry 1382 Ct
  • Maumbury Ring 1841 TAMap
  • Malmebury 1553 Ilch
  • Amphitheatre 1773 Bayly 1811 OS
  • Ma(u)msbury (Rings), The Rings 1841 TA


Maumbury (local, SY 691899), Memburi , Membury 1333Ct , Mambury 1382, 1431ib , Mambury or Maumbury 1774 Hutch1, Maumbury Rings 1877TA (alt. app.), Maumberry 1650ParlSurv , Maumbiry 1382Ct , Maumbury Ring 1841TAMap , Malmebury 1553Ilch , Amphitheatre 1773 Bayly, 1811 OS, Ma (u )msbury (Rings ), The Rings 1841TA , cf. Ma (u )msbury 5 Acre Flg , Ma (u )msbury (N ) Middle Flg , Maumsbury Cmn , Maumsbury Green , Mamsbray E Flg , Mamsbray Ring Flg 1841ib . The second el. is OE  burh (dat. sg. byrig ), here in the sense 'pre-English earthwork' since Maumbury is a 'henge monument' of Neolithic date which later served as a Roman amphitheatre, v. also hring . The first el. is possibly OE  malm (WSax  mealm) 'sandy or chalky soil', as proposed by Hutch3 2 795 ('Mamebury being derived in the opinion of some writers from malm or mame (as it is called in the Dorset dialects), a kind of earthy chalk, of which it consists'); Mem - would then represent WSax  mealm, and for the vocalization and loss of pre-consonantal l in Mem -, Ma (u )m -, v. Zachrisson ANInfl 146 ff, IPN 113, Feilitzen 78.However it is possible, in view of the late appearance of l (once, in 1553), that the name contains some other first el. which was only interpreted as malm at this comparatively late date: three out of four of the 14th cent, forms have neither l nor u , and Maum - may simply show AN  au for a before m + labial (Jordan 199, Zachrisson ANInfl 153, IPN 105). Professor Löfvenberg suggests that the most likely first el. is OE  gemǣne 'common'. Possibly analogous to this name are Membury D 644 (Man - 1086, 1238, Mem - Hy 2 et freq , Men - 1238, 1244, 1270, M (e )yn - 1270, thought probably to contain PrWelsh  main2 'a rock, a stone', though DEPN suggests gemǣne 'common' as a possible alternative), and Mambury D 107 (Mam - 1330, Man - e16, thought possibly to contain main 2 or OE  mamme ca teat', cf. PrWelsh  mamm with the same meaning). Cf. this comment on Maumbury in Hutch3 2 795: 'Roger Gale derived the name from maen , a great stone, which lay at the entrance when he saw it in 1719'. For a certain instance of this word (main 2 , Welsh  maen ) as first el. in a compound name, cf. Maine Down (probably to be identified with the earlier Maynerigge which has 13th cent, forms in Men -, Meyn - and Man -) in Broadmayne par. supra .