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.

Shell Fm

Early-attested site in the Parish of Soham


Shell Fm. Cf. Sceldwere 1221ElyA , 1251ElyCouch , 1277Ely , Sheldesstreng , Echelmere 1251ElyCouch , 1277Ely , (le ) Sheld (e ), Litil Sheld (e )1425Ct , Grete Sheld (e )1471 ib., marisc. voc. le Hallshelde , le Hallshelde 1475 ib., Great Sheild 1582 ib., Shell (Lake )1612Eg , Ely Greate (Little ) Shell 1632 Hondius, 1690 Lea, Little Shell or East Eastmore 1637 BedL, Moonshell 1658 ib., Shell Barn c. 1840TA . The farm is on the Ely boundary.In 1632 Shell was a stretch of marsh near Burnt Fen on both sides of the Ouse. Greatshell was near Shippea, Littleshell near Weltmore.The name thus covered a large stretch of low-lying land on both sides of the river. It is probably OE  sceldu , 'shallowness, shallow place' and, if Echelmere (in Littleport) is to be relied on, may have been the name of a mere . The second element in Sceldwere (in Littleport) is wēr , 'fishing weir,' and in Sheldesstreng is ON  strengr , 'water-course (cf. Ellingstring, PN NRY 231), and this may be identical with the later Shell Lake (v. lacu , 'sluggish stream'). Another example of sheld is apparently found in Grenesheld ad Gretho in Cambridge (t. John Township). Cf. also Shelford supra 87.