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 Steeple

Historical Forms

  • Herpere 1086 DB
  • Harpera Exon
  • la Harpine 1109 Dugd(II.70)
  • Herperston 1340 NI
  • Harpeston 1376 Ass, Pat
  • Harpstone 1795 Boswell
  • Harpstone or Harpston 1861 Hutch3
  • Harpson 1811 OS


Hurpston (SY 924806), Herpere 1086 DB, Harpera Exon, la Harpine 1109 Dugd (II. 70), Herperston 1340 NI (p), Harpeston 1376Ass , Pat, Harpstone 1795 Boswell, Harpstone or Harpston 1861 Hutch3, Harpson 1811 OS, a difficult name. The DB and Exon spellings would seem to mean 'the harper', v. hearpere , and la Harpine is a Fr translation of this, v. harpin ; Hurpston is on the Corfe River and the term was perhaps used figuratively to mean 'the murmuring brook', cf. Harper's Brook Nth 2 and Harperwell YW 280 where the same usage is possible. In the 1340 form this name (later reduced to Harp (e )-) is combined with tūn 'farm' or stān 'stone'; the latter seems most likely in view of the existence of a large stone (Stone 6″, Harp Stone 1″) some 300 yards W of Hurpston, described by Hutch3 1 609 as 'a remarkable stone placed at right angles to its natural bed, and rising 9 ft. above the ground', cf. Roger atte Stone 1327SR ; according to local tradition, this stone is so called because when the wind is in the right quarter the grooves on its surface cause a singing noise not unlike that of a harp (R.J.T.). For another interpretation of this name, as an OE  *hearpere meaning 'river occasionally dried up' or 'barren place' from a Gmc *herp -, *harp -, etc, v. Tengstrand MN 99–100. There was a mill here in 1086 DB (VCHDo 3108).