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 Bidford

Historical Forms

  • Marnan clive, mearnan clyfe 872 BCS537 11th
  • Cliva 12th ADi
  • Clyve 1315 Ipm 1316 FA 1332 SR
  • Marleclive 1275 RH 1501 Ipm
  • Marleclyve 1289 Ass
  • Marlecleve 1439 ADvi
  • Marcleve 1524,1599 Recov
  • Marclive 1656 Dugdale


This is a difficult name and the parallel Marnhull (PN Do 42) and the existence of quarries at both places have suggested to some previous investigators the possibility that we have some significant word descriptive of the soil of the hill or cliff from which the stone is quarried. Hutchins, History of Dorset (iv, 305), says that the soil at Marnhull is a white marle or clay which hardens into a freestone used for building in that neighbourhood.Nash, History of Worcestershire (i, 236), says of Marlcliff “here are quarries of very good stone…some of it bears a veiy fine polish, like Derbyshire marble,” but the stone used in the village for walls, etc. and quarried locally, is softer and flakes much more easily, and it is somewhat doubtful if the same adjective could be used of the stone in both places. It should be noted further that Marnham (Nt) by the Trent has forms with an identical first element and no quarries. It is therefore exceedingly doubtful whether we are justified in assuming a significant adjective mearn and it may well be that the suggestion in PN Wo (314) that we have a lost pers. name Mearna found in its OGer  form in Marningum (Forstemann ON ii, 214) is still the correct one.