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 Hatfield

Historical Forms

  • Clunes 1189–99 BM 1202 YChviii
  • Glunes 1190–1202 ib
  • bosco de Clounes 1324 MinAcct
  • The Clowns 1630 Hnt 1842 TA


Clownes, Clunes 1189–99 BM, 1202 YCh viii, Glunes 1190–1202 ib, bosco de Clounes 1324MinAcct 45, The Clowns 1630 Hnt, 1842TA .This name is (apart from its plur. ending) identical in form with Clowne Nt 104 and Clowne Db 238, both of which are thought to perpetuate as p.ns. a former name of the R. Poulter, and therefore to be of the same origin as Clun Sa, from Brit  colauno- (of doubtful meaning). But the plur. form of Clownes rules out any connection with this. The only suggestion that can be made is that Clunes is an OE  *clūn , cf. OE  clyne 'lump of metal', Fris  klünj 'clod', Swed  dial. klunn , kluns 'clump, log', Dan  dial. klunds 'log, stump', with which ModE  clown 'peasant' has been associated (v. NED s.v.). The original meaning appears to have been 'clod, clot, lump', but the significance of the p.n. Clownes is obscure; the cognates suggest either 'clods' or 'stumps'.

Places in the same Parish