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.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Watchfield

Historical Forms

  • Wacenesfel 726–37 BCS155 c.1200
  • Uuacenesfeld 821 c.1200 ib
  • Wæthenesfeld 821 c.1240 ib
  • (æt) Wæclesfeld, (ad) Weclesfeld 931 BCS675 c.1200
  • (æt) Wæclesfeld 931 c.1240 ib
  • Wakelesfeld 1187 P
  • Wachenesfeld 1086 DB
  • Wachenesfeld' 1198 HunterFines 1428 FA
  • Wachennesfelde 1402 Fine
  • Wechenesfeld c.1180 Abingdon c.1240 Fees 1220
  • Wecenesfeld c.1200 ClaudiusCix
  • Wechenesfelde 1295 SR
  • Wachenefeld 1224–5 Ass 1327 SR
  • Wachene(s)feld' 1242–3 Fees
  • Watchyngfeld 1547 LRMB
  • Watchingfeeld, Watchfeld 1585 Dep
  • Watchfield alias Watchingfield 1731 PubLib


The second el. is feld 'open land'. Skeat (42–3) and Stenton (23) both take the more correct form of the first el. to be Wæcles -. Stenton compares Watlington (O 94–5) and Wæclingaceaster (BdHu 5–7).Ekwall (DEPN) gives only the forms with Wacenes - etc., and takes the first el. to be a pers.n. Wæccin . The earliest forms in DEPN are from forged charters, however, and derivation from a pers.n. Wæcel , suggested by the both copies of the genuine charter of 931, is probably to be preferred. On the interchange of l , n , r in p.ns., v. IPN 106.Zachrisson there quotes the dialect form synable for syllable , which shows a development similar to that assumed here, i.e. dissimilation of l-l to n-l . Wæcel , though only recorded in p.ns., may be regarded as well-evidenced.

Prof. Löfvenberg points out that the development to Watch - differs from that to Watl - in Watlington and Watling Street, and he is therefore inclined to favour Ekwall's derivation from a pers.n. Wæccin . It seems clear from the forms, however, that Wæceles - was mostly replaced in this n. by Wæcenes - immediately after the Conquest, so that a different development might be expected. There has probably also been association with the words watch and watching .