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.


Volume edited by : Margaret Gelling 1973-76

Historical Forms

  • Berrocscire, Bearrocscire 893 Asser 11th
  • Bearrucscire 860 ASC c.900 BCS687 c.931 EHD c.1200 ASC c.954 ASC c.1400 1006 m.11th 1006 c.1100
  • Bearrocscire 860 ASC c.1000 ASC 1009,1011 m.11th
  • Barrocscire m.11th ASWrits late11th
  • Bearrucscira 1045–8 c.1200 ib
  • Bearrucscyre m.11th c.1200 ib
  • Berroches(s)cire 1086 DB
  • Bearrocsira 1089 GilbertCrispin
  • Barrucscire 860,1006 ASC c.1150
  • Berrochscr' 1161 P
  • Berochescr' 1169,1172 ib
  • Berochscr' 1170 ib
  • Berroch'scr' 1176,1190 ib
  • Berrucsire 1179–82 Os
  • Beroc sir' 1185 RR
  • Berucsyre, Berucsyra 12th–e.13th AnnMon
  • Barrocscir' 1208 P
  • Barrokshyre c.1210 Os c.1280
  • Berwykschire c.1433 AnnMon
  • Berchesire, Berchesira 1086 DB
  • Berchescira 1130 P 1164 et freq
  • Berksira 1156 RBE 13th
  • Berkesira 1160–1 RBE 13th
  • Barcssire, Barkssire c.1300 RG
  • Barkshire 1600 Camden


The statement of Asser 'Berrocscire: quae paga taliter vocatur a Berroc silva, ubi buxus abundantissime nascitur' is supported by a reference to a wood of this name in a charter of King John, dated 1199, confirming to the nuns of Fontévrault the possessions of the nunnery of Amesbury, which had been granted to them in 1179 by Henry II. The charter of King John mentions nemus de Barroc , along with other places in Berks and W. This charter is a repetition of Henry II's charter of 1179, which is recited in later Inspeximus charters of Edward II, Edward III and Henry III, the name of the wood appearing in these as Berroch ', Berrochia . It is safe to assume that the wood-name was current at least until 1179. These medieval references are fully discussed by W. H. Stevenson, Asser , 155–7.Another possible reference, dated 1203, occurs in Cur II, 239, where Maria, daughter of Richard and Odo de Berkewod ', is mentioned in connection with seven and a half acres in Berkewod '. The case is assigned to Berkshire by the marginal note Berk ', but no indication is given of the exact location of the land.

The position of the wood cannot be determined with certainty.King John's charter mentions Challow, Fawley, South Fawley, Rockley (in Ogbourne W) and Letcombe, and then gives details of rents to be obtained from the wood of Barroc , and from Chute Forest in W. This context clearly suggests that Barroc was in the south-western part of the county. H. J. Peake, in Transactions of Newbury and District Field Club , vii, 177–80, argued plausibly that it was 'on the clay lands between and including Enborne and Hungerford'.

Barroc is a Celtic name, derived from barrǭg , 'hilly' (Jackson 228).Barrock Fell (Cu 201) has the same origin, and Professor Melville Richards points out that there is a township called Barrog in Denbighshire and a river called Barrog in Montgomeryshire. The lost Cum Barruc near Dorston He (H. P. R. Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands , p. 137) is not relevant, as Professor Richards informs us that Barruc is there a pers.n. It is possible that Barroc was originally the name of the Berkshire Downs, supplanted by OE  Æscesdūn (2–4). Asser's statement about box growing abundantly in Berroc silva is perhaps gratuitous; it may possibly allude to a popular etymology which connected Berroc with the word box .

See further Introd.