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.

Gunshot Common

Early-attested site in the Parish of Wisborough Green

Historical Forms

  • Gumeshelde, Gumeshult, Goneshudde, Guneshude, Gomesholde, Guneshedde 1279 Ass 1327 SR


Gunshot Common is called Gunsutes , late the estate of Emrie Gunsute , t. Eliz (ChancP), and is to be associated with the family of (de) Gumeshelde , Gumeshult , Goneshudde , Guneshude , Gomesholde , Guneshedde 1279Ass et freq to 1327 SR. The first element in this name must be an OE  pers. name Guma , perhaps a pet-form of such a name as OE  Gumweald . This name is found in Gumber supra 97, Gomshall (Sr) and in guman edisc (BCS 282), a Berkshire charter, msh has become nsh by assimilation.The second element is OE  scydd found in hudelinga scydd (BCS 702), a swine-pasture in Kent or Sussex, in stepacnollesscydd (BCS 216) in Oxfordshire, in Rumsted in Tonbridge (K), Romchedde 1338Bodl , Romschedde 1368 BM, Bowshots Fm infra 185, in the unidentified Paleshudde supra 117 (s. n. Limbo Fm) and in the pers. names Boyshedde in East Grinstead (1332 SR), and Huppesudde in Kirdford (1296 SR), and Pokshudde in Godalming (Sr) (1332 SR). These are all in woodland areas and tend to confirm Skeat's suggestion (Etymological Dictionary s. v. shed ) that shed was possibly a Kentish form of provincial English shud , 'shed,' ME  schudde , going back to what was for him a hypothetical OE  scydd . The sense of the word as given in the only ME  example, viz. in the Promptorium Parvulorum , is 'hovel, swine-kote,' just the sort of place-name term which we might expect in old forest-lands. The only difficulty lies in the fact that ME  schudde and later shud seem to be chiefly East Anglian, which would point to original scudd rather than scydd . If that is the case we must assume side by side OE  forms scudd and, with jo -suffix, scydd . For the affinities of such a word v. NEDs. v. shud . The whole name would then mean 'Guma's shed or swine-cot.' There is however an alter- native possibility. Skeat (PN C 39), dealing with this very word scydd as found in Saxon charters, accepts Toller's suggestion (B.T. s. v .) that this is a cognate (with jo -suffix) of Ger schutt , used of 'alluvial soil,' 'bank of earth,' 'mound,' 'rubble.'It goes back to a Germanic root skud denoting 'to shake,' which has also given rise to LGer  schudde , 'alluvial soil,' and East Frisian schudde , 'sod, piece of turf.' The topography of the places with this element scydd in England is not of a sufficiently decisive character to enable us to determine what its sense might be in English, but 'alluvial soil' at least is out of the question. On the whole the probabilities are rather in favour of the alternative explanation of scydd as 'shed.'