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 Watton

Historical Forms

  • Ueta dun c.730 Bede 8th
  • Guetadun uel Wetandun c.730 Bede 13th
  • nunmynstre þæt is genemned Weatadun, Weatadun c.1000 OEBede
  • wǽta dún, wetadun, wetadún c.1000 OEBede 11th
  • Watun, Waton 1086 DB
  • Watun, Waton 1161–75 YCh681 1178–90 LeonardR 1351 Ipm
  • Wattune 1086 DB
  • Wattun(a), Wattune, Watton(a) 12th Dugd 1150–3,1170 YCh1108–10 1520 Test
  • Vatton 1304 BevAct
  • Wadton 1229 FF


Watton is on the lower slope of a long, gradually rising hill to the west of the marshes, which must then have been more extensive than now; Eustace Fitzjohn endowed the nunnery in 1150 with the whole vill of Watton in terris , in aquis , in pratis et in pascuis et in mariscis (Dugd vi, 955). This agrees with a derivation of Watton from OE (Nb)uēta dūn , 'wet, saturated hillside,' v. wæt , dun 2 . The OE  spelling wæt shows the substitution of WSax  wǣt for Nb wēt , and weata (which can hardly be a Mercian back-mutated form) is very likely a mistake for waeta , like OEBede Leod (MS B) for Loid (is ), i.e. Leeds (WRY), in other manuscripts. The post-conquest spellings in Wat - arise from the substitution of OScand  vátr , Northern ME  wate 'wet' (cf. Introd. xxii), as well as the assimilation of td to tt .

Places in the same Parish

Early-attested site

Other OS name