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 Felkirk

Historical Forms

  • Breselai, Breselie 1086 DB
  • Brerleia, Brerley, Brerlay 12 Brett 13 YDxii,236 1279–81 QW 1280 Ass3 1285 YI
  • Brerelay, Brerelai, Brereleia, Brereley 1194 P l.12 Nost70d 13 1225 Nost71 1254 YI 1279 Ch 1589 FF
  • Brirleye, Brirlay 1271 Ch 1304 Pat
  • Bryerley 1566 FF
  • Brearley 1588 WillY
  • Breireley 1623 FF


'Forest-glade or clearing amongst the briars', v. brēr , lēah , a p.n. found elsewhere in YW, usually as Brearley; cf. also Brerewell, Brier Butts f.n. infra for other local names with 'briar'. The modern form is due to the influence of ModE  brier , a form difficult to account for (cf. NED s.v.) and not found in literary sources before the sixteenth century; the two early spellings with Brir - are therefore interesting and suggest that the raising of brēr to brīr goes back to ME.