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 Kennington

Historical Forms

  • (wið neoðan) berige c.1200 BCS906
  • (on) beryge 956 c.1200 ib
  • (ofer) berege 956 c.1200 ib
  • Berrie Closses, Olde Berye Closse Eliz RentSur
  • Berry Mead(ow) c.1840 TA


In Abingdon 1 88–90 there is an account of a mid-tenth cent, dispute between the monks and the people of Oxfordshire about the ownership of a meadow called Beri . This was settled by the monks placing a sheaf, with a taper on top, on a round shield, and floating it down the river. The shield went round the meadow (i.e. to the E. of it). The statement that the meadow lay between the Thames and Iffley accords with the bounds of Kennington (v. Pt 3), which use the name Thames for the western branch of the river. The curious ceremony has been connected (Chadwick, Origin of the English Nation 261 and Chambers, Beowulf 83–4) with the name Scyld Scefing in Beowulf . It is difficult to say whether there can be a connection between it and the name of the meadow in dispute, berige can hardly mean anything but 'barley island', v. bere , īeg , ēg . Cf. D. Whitelock, The Beginnings of English Society , p. 21, 'English and Scandinavian traditions assign him (i.e. Scyld) a son whose name (i.e. Bēow) seems to mean “barley”'.