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 Cawston

Historical Forms

  • Caustune, Caustuna, Castune, Caustona, Castona, Cauestuna, Caustituna, Caupstuna, Caluestune, Gaustuna 1086 DB
  • Cauestona 1121 AD
  • Chaustun 1158 P
  • Causton 1159etfreqto1242 P 1200 FineR 1212,1219,1242–3 Fees 1229,1264,1309 Ch 1234,1241,1331 Cl 1244 Binh 1250,1257 Ass 1256to1309 Ipm 1257etfreqto1549 Pat 1275 RH 1302 Fine 1311 Orig 1316 FA 1319 FF 1495 AD
  • Chauston 1160,1161,1230 P
  • Caustona 1168,1173,1175 P
  • Cawaeston 1198–99 Fees
  • Kaustun 1222 Pat
  • Kaweston 1225 Cur
  • Caueston 1225 Cur
  • Kauston 1232 FF 1242,1243 Cl
  • Calveston 1234 FF
  • Calueston 1250 Ass
  • Caustone 1250,1269,1286 Ass 1254–75 Val 1314 Ipm
  • Caustun 1252 Cl
  • Caweston c.1300 Bromh
  • Cauxston 1420 BM


The predominant spelling for this name, from its earliest evidence, is Causton , which has been explained as a development from the genitive of the OScand  pers.n. Kalfr and OE  tūn, i.e. *Kalves tūn , a form preserved as Caluestune in DB and at least twice later, Calveston 1234, Calueston 1250 (v. the article ON Kálfr , ODan, OSwed Kalf in Insley 243). The vocalization of -al - to -au - is a well-known AN  development, evidenced for instance in Mautby for earlier Malteby (v. PN Nf II 10).

Cawston is a large parish. Like the neighbouring parish of Aylsham, with which it has interesting historical parallels, not yet fully explored, it was a complex manor already in 1086. Cawston town is situated in the western part of the parish, in medieval times surrounded by four or more open fields. The eastern part of the parish is on poorer soils. In a recent article C. Barringer (1996) shows that, in sixteenth-century Cawston, a tenemental organisation in units called “tofts”, similar to the one noted in Aylsham by Joan Turville-Petre (v. supra ), was applied. Such a “toft” system was earlier noted in Martham, West Flegg Hundred, by Barbara Cornford (1993).