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 Bessels Leigh

Historical Forms

  • Æaromundeslee 687 BCS100 c.1200
  • Earmundesle 821 c.1200 ib
  • Earmundelæh 821 c.1240 ib
  • Ærmundes lea 942 c.1240 ib
  • Earmundesleah 959 c.1200 ib
  • Ermundeslea c.1200 ClaudiusCix


Among the lands accredited to Abingdon in the forged charter of Ini to Hean (BCS 100, Abingdon 1, 11–12) and in the spurious will of Hean (Abingdon 1, 13) is a large estate at Æaromundeslee or Earmundeslea , the hidage of which is given as 80 in the first document and 83 in the second. The place is mentioned among other estates in the forged charter of Cenwulf (BCS 366, Abingdon 1, 26), but no hidage is given there. More specific references occur in the heading to a set of bounds copied twice in ClaudiusCix , and in the charter of Eadmund (BCS 777, Abingdon 1, 100), which grants to the Abbey an estate of 10 hides 'æt Ærmundeslea, villamque nomine æt Æppeltune'. Because of this last charter, the bounds of which begin 'Þis synt þa landemæro to ærmundes lea and oþre namen æt æppeltune', Earmundeslea has generally been taken as an earlier name for Appleton, v. Skeat 90, Stenton 4, DEPN. It seems likely, however, that it originally denoted a much larger area, certainly comprising Appleton, Eaton and Bessels Leigh, and possibly some other parishes in Hormer hundred, and that the writer of BCS 777 was endeavour- ing to say that the village of Appleton was situated within the larger area known as Earmundeslea . It is unwise to attach too precise a meaning to the Latin phrases of these charters, but the words 'x. mansas agelluli ibidem, ubi vulgares prisco more mobilique relatione vocitant æt Ærmundeslea, villamque nomine æt Æppeltune' could be taken to indicate that the local use of the name was somewhat lacking in precision. It should at any rate be noted that phrases such as prisco more , prisca relatione are applied to other p.ns. in charters of Eadmund, and need not be interpreted as meaning that the name was going out of use.

A set of bounds copied twice at the end of ClaudiusCix (appearing in ClaudiusBvi as part of BCS 1047) purports to be the bounds of 5 hides in Ermundeslea . These are difficult to follow, but seem most likely to be describing roughly the modern parish of Bessels Leigh (v. Pt 3), and Bessels Leigh (supra ) may well represent the old name, with the loss of its first el. Earmundeslea is a compound of (a)h with a pers.n., for a discussion of which v. Wo 129–30. A name Ēar or Ēare appears in Eastbury and a lost Earesbroca in Wo. In the Berks p.n. we may have a compound pers.n. consisting of the archaic el. Ēar and the common el. -mund .