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 Colesborne


Rapsgate, 1824 M. This place gave its name to the hundred (144 supra ). The earlier forms of the latter suggest an OE  resp -Ʒeat . The first el. would appear to be OE  resp , reps which is recorded only in the sense of 'response' (in the Church service), but related words like OE  repsan , repsung and (ge )resp extend its meaning to 'reprove, blame, convict'; OHG  refsan meant 'argue', and OIcel  refsa 'punish' and also 'inquire', whilst MSwed  räfsta -þing denoted a kind of public meeting or court for the administration of the law (cf. Söderwall ii, 276–7 s.v. räfst ). It is very probable that some such sense as 'public inquiry, public court of law' would pertain also to OE  resp , a sense appropriate in the name of a hundred meeting-place. Rapsgate is on the hillside rising to the prominent Pen Hill and there is no topographical feature such as a gap in the hills which would be described by OE  geat; the latter must here be used of 'a gate', no doubt one on the lane from North Cerney to Colesbourne which gave access to Rapsgate; for the use of geat cf. also Spital Gate (65supra ), Kiftsgate (261infra ).