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.

High Hayne

Early-attested site in the Parish of Beaworthy

Historical Forms

  • la Heghen 1333 SR


Names in hayes , hayne are found throughout Devon and are especially common in the south-east of the county. They probably all derive from ME  hay , OE  (ge)hæg, 'enclosure.'Since in the east of the county the element is as a rule compounded with the name of a medieval owner, or is added at a late stage to some already existing monosyllabic p.n. such as Stone, Coombe, Wood, Ford, etc., it is likely that in nearly all cases we have to do with names of ME origin in which the word had come to have little more than the sense of 'farm' or 'holding' (cf. the manorial use of bury in Ess, Herts and Mx and EPN s. v. burh ). Thus Alexanderhayes infra 616 is better rendered 'Alexander's farm' or 'holding,' than 'enclosures.'The variation between forms heghes and heghen in ME has usually been explained as due to alternation between nom. pl. and dat. pl. (OE  gehægum ). Such frequent use of a dative plural in place-names has no parallel outside Anglian and Anglo- Scandinavian England (cf. Mawer, Problems of Place Name Study 14) and considering the late origin of most of these names would be remarkable anywhere. Rather, the form heghen is to be taken as the weak plural of hegh , existing side by side with the more common and regular heghes . Such might well be found in Devon where ME weak forms are specially common (cf. also Willing, Pitten, Fursdon infra 263, 278, 311). v. Introd. xxxvi.