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 March

Historical Forms

  • (caput del) Cricke 1199 ElyCouch
  • Crickelake t.Hy3 WMP
  • le Krike c.1250 ElyM
  • Kirkelake 1251 ElyCouch
  • le Kirke c.1270 Thorney
  • le Crike 1284 1339 Imb
  • le Kyrke 1341 ElyF
  • Cricklode 1528 Imb
  • Crekelode ib.
  • Creeke loode 1563 SewersD
  • Creakelode, Creakelode al. Crane lode 1574 SewersC 1617 SewersD 1618 AddCh
  • Creeke 1597 WisbechMap
  • Creeke loade 1621 SewersD
  • Crock Load 1632 Hondius


These names are to be connected with modern English creek , generally regarded as Germanic, although its earlier history is unknown.NED, s. v. creek , sb., gives three types: (1) crike (c. 1250), corresponding to OFr  crique , (2) creke (1512), earlier Du krēke , 'creek, bay,' (3) crick (kricke 1582), only since the 16th century. Here we have much earlier examples. They must have the same origin and are either from an English cognate of OScand  kriki , 'crack, nook, bend,' Sw  dial. krik , 'bend, nook,' armkrik , 'bend of the arm,' or are due to a confusion of this cognate and the Scandinavian word itself. OScand  kriki and an OE  *cricc would give ME  kricke , crike , crich (e ). Lengthening and lowering of the ĭ in the open syllable in ME  would give crēke (modern creek ) and crēche , thus accounting for all the forms. Further evidence of a probable native origin is provided by Creeksea (Ess).In PN Ess 212–13, the first element is doubtfully explained as ciric , 'hill' or 'barrow,' but the first sense is not altogether satisfactory, as the hill there is but slight, whilst no trace of a barrow has been discovered.Ekwall has since suggested (DEPN) that the first element is identical with creek , which not only suits the topography but also fits in with the forms for the Essex place, Criccheseia 1086 DB, Crikesse 1198, Crickesheth ', Crekeseye 1248, whilst Crukesheth 1288 points to a possible development as in Crouch Moor, where we may have to reckon also with analogical influence from ME  crouche , 'cross.' The earliest recorded meanings of creek are (a ) 'coastal inlet,' etc., (b ) 'part of a river or river system,' the common American crick , 'brook, small stream,' occurring from 1674. Here, the original meaning was 'bend,' hence 'winding stream,' the fen by this, and the lake into (or from) which it flowed, v. (ge)lād, lacu . For the alternative Crane lode cf. Grandford infra .