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 Wroxall

Historical Forms

  • Wroches(s)ale 1157,1161 P 1163 Bracton 1167 Ch 1327
  • Werocheshala 1163 BM
  • Wrockishale 1178 P
  • Wrocheshale 1242 AD
  • Wro(c)keshale 1178,1187 P 1198 Fees 1275 RH
  • Wrokselle 1251 Ipm
  • Wrokishale, Wrokishala 1259 Ch
  • Wrokeshale 1259 Pat
  • Brocheshalia 12th France
  • Brochesdalia c.1155 Ch 1327
  • Vrochesale 1161 P
  • Wroxhale 1227–55 Ch 1251 Fees 1285 Ass 1316 FA
  • Wroxhall 1535 VE
  • Wroxhull 1236 ADiii 1282 FF
  • Wraxhale 1460 KnowleG 1504 Ipm
  • Wraxall 1516 ADv
  • Rocksall 1596 Depositions
  • Roxall 1667 StJ


The series of place-names with initial Wrocc - presents a difficult problem. In addition to Wroxall (Wa), which lies at the head of a valley, we have five other examples of a compound of Wrocces and heale (from healh ). They are Wroxall (Wt), KCD 768Wroccesheale , on the side of a deep valley. Wraxall (PN Do 243), high up a valley, North Wraxhall (PN W 180) on a hill near the head of a valley, South Wraxhall (ib.) on a hill between two valleys, Wraxall (So) on the side of the valley of the Yeo, Wraxhall near Castle Cary (So), below a hill in a broad valley. The same element is compounded with hyll in Roxhill (PN BedsHu 80), which stands on the spur of a well-marked hill, with stan in Wroxton (PN O 229) at the head of a valley near the top of a hill, and with ham in Wroxham (Nf) in the broad valley of the Bure. In all these names alike, with the possible exception of Wroxton, in which the forms are ambiguous, the first element is in the genitive case. Zachrisson suggested in Some English Place-name Etymologies (12, 29) that these names were a compound of a pers. name *Wrocc , related by gradation to OE  Wraca , which is on record. Since then he has rejected that solution in favour of a word *wroc , 'fold, escarpment, hillside,' related to OE  wrecan , 'to drive' (StudNP v, 60). We may note further that an element wrok is found in wrokcumb (BCS 717), a ME version of an OE charter from Wiltshire, and this is clearly in favour of a significant if not necessarily a toponymical element. The main difficulties in accepting a toponymical term are (1) that of finding any common topographical link between all these places, more especially between Wroxham and the others, (2) the almost universal use of this element, if it be such, in genitival compounds.

Professor Ekwall suggests that the right solution of the problem is to be found in a lost OE  *wrocc , probably a name for the buzzard, which could also be used as a pers. name of the nickname type. There is in Swedish a word vråk , 'buzzard,' going back to a stem wrac , connected with OE  wrecan , 'to pursue,' which would aptly describe the predatory habits of the buzzard (cf. Hellquist s. v. vråk ). OE  wrōc cannot be derived from the same grade but there may have been an OE  wrōc side by side with the Swedish vråk in the same way that OE  hrōc exists side by side with ON  hrákr . In Wroxham we must have this word used as a pers. name, in the others the probabilities are in favour of the word being used in its significant sense. Hence 'buzzard's nook,' v. healh .

Places in the same Parish