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.

Wigston Parva

Major Settlement in the Parish of Wigston Parva

Historical Forms

  • Wicgestane 1002×04 Bu 11 S 1004 Bu 11 S
  • Wiggestane 1002×04 Bu 11 S
  • Wicestan 1086 DB
  • Wigestan 1148×54 Reg 1188 P 1202 Ass
  • Wiggestan 1196 ChancR 1198 P
  • Wiggestain 1195(p),1197 P
  • Wichestain 1202 Ass
  • Wigeston 1200 Cur 1202 Ass
  • Wygeston 1261 RGrav 1310 Pat 1394 Banco
  • Wiggeston 1316 FA 1536 Ct 1627 LML
  • Wyggeston 1327 SR 1392 Banco 1399 Pat 1445 Ipm
  • Wigston 1576 Saxton 1610 Speed
  • Little Wigston 1610 Speed 1627 LML 1807 Nichols
  • Wigston Parva 1843 TA


Probably 'Wicg's stone', v. stān . An OE  masc. pers.n. Wicg is unrecorded, but it would be a side-form of the common OE  masc. pers.n. Wicga . Nichols records the late form Wiggenston (1445) which appears to contain the possessive case (Wicgan ) of Wicga , but this is most probably erratic. A few early spellings with -stain indicate Scand  influence from steinn 'stone' on the generic stān . The southern boundary of the parish is formed by Roman Watling Street and the village is some half-mile from the Romano-British settlement of Venonis at High Cross.Whether the stone which gave Wigston its name was already in situ at the period of settlement or was placed later as a boundary marker is unknown (perh. compare the nature of 'Guthlac's Stone' of Guthlaxton Hundred supra ). Ekwall DEPN suggests as an alternative interpretation of the name that the specific may be rather OE  wigga 'a beetle' (as in ModE  earwig ) in a more original sense 'that which moves' (as retained in ModE  wiggle ), hence denoting 'a wiggling stone, a logan-stone', as perh. does Stanwick (reversed as *stān -wigga ) in Northants. If so, such a rocking stone has not survived here. The late affixes of ~ Parva and Little ~ distinguish the village from Wigston Magna in the same Hundred.

Wigston Parva parish is today a small island of Guthlaxton Hundred territory within that of Sparkenhoe Hundred, separated from it by fields of Sparkenhoe's Sharnford parish to its east. That it should remain as part of the later Guthlaxton Hundred after the Sparkenhoe Hundred was carved out of the extensive old Guthlaxton Wapentake suggests its significant early relationship with the parishes to its immediate east. It may be that Wigston Parva parish, with those of Sharnford, Claybrooke, Ullesthorpe and Bittesby, formed that part of the territorium of Venonis which lay on Watling Street and later, perhaps, the parochia of an early Anglo-Saxon minster located at Claybrooke (Parva). For an extended discussion of these possibilities, v. Charles Phythian-Adams, Continuity , Fields and Fission : the Making of a Midland Parish , Leicester 1978. For Venonis 'the place of the tribe', v. A. L. F. Rivet and Colin Smith, The Place -Names of Roman Britain (1979), 491–2.