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.

East Goscote Hundred

Hundred in the County of Leicestershire

Historical Forms

  • Gosencote 1086 DB
  • Gosecot 1086 DB 1203 P 1229 Cl 1242,1255 Cl
  • Gosecote 1086 DB c.1130 LeicSurv 1166 P 1276 RH c.1291 Tax 1360,1363 BPR
  • Gosecota 1168 ChancR
  • Gosekote 1242,1252 Fees
  • Goscot 1276 RH c.1291 Tax
  • Goscote 1316 FA 1327 Pat 1363 BPR 1369 Fisher 1509 LP
  • Goscotte 1454 Comp
  • Goscort 1457 MiD
  • Gosgate (sic) 1553 Pat
  • East Goscott 1571 SP
  • Eastgoscott(e) 1604 SR 1607 LAS
  • East Goscoate 1610 Speed
  • wapentaco, wapentacum, wapentagio 1086 DB 1230 P 1242 ChR 1509 LP
  • hundred, hundredo, hundredum 1230 P 1233 Ch 1242 Cl
  • Mothowes 1467 × 84 LTD
  • Gosecoteho (wap') 1168 P
  • Gosencote 1086 DB
  • Goose coat 1842 TA, YW 6 9


v. vápnatak , hundred .

The area of the original Goscote Wapentake was roughly twice that of Framland and twice that of Gartree. It extended from the Rutland border in the east to the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire boundaries in the north-west. The heavy soils of western Leicestershire were exploited later than those of the east of the county and the size of the original wapentake doubtlessly reflects, as does that of the original Guthlaxton Wapentake, its more sparsely spread population.

The East Goscote Hundred moot assembled on an impressive promontory lying in Barkby parish, overlooking Syston to its north-west and Queniborough to its north. The site is a mile and a half from the Roman Fosse Way and beside an early ridgeway (now called Ridgemere Lane) running south-east towards Allexton at the county boundary. The earliest evidence for a moot-site here is Mothowes 1467 × 84LTD , with OE  mōt 'an assembly'. The implications of the plural form of the generic are uncertain. It may have been an original singular OE  hōh , modified as a plural of ON  haugr 'a mound, a hill', or even have been the plural of haugr from the name's formation, suggesting the erstwhile presence of ancient burial mounds which marked the assembly site on the headland.If so, such tumuli are no longer visible on the ground, perhaps having been long ploughed out. The moot-site appears as Mute Bush on a Barkby map of 1609, and on another of 1635 as Moote Bush (OE  mōt - busc 'the bush or thicket at which the assembly meets'). In 1798, Nichols noted, 'In this lordship is a place called Mowdebush-hill on which stands a stone with Mowdebush-hill inserted thereon'; and again, 'The Hundred Court is called at a large stone at a place at the top of Syston field'. The East Goscote Hundred Mute Bush is located reasonably near the centre of the original Goscote Wapentake area and, as for the other Leicestershire hundred moot-sites, positioned conveniently near a Roman road leading to the Borough of Leicester (v. Barrie Cox, 'Leicestershire moot-sites : the place-name evidence', Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society , vol. 47 (1971–72), 14–21).However, whether this was the moot-site of the original undivided Goscote Wapentake is uncertain. In Wymeswold parish further to the north-west, at a headland to the west of the Fosse Way and more central to the extent of the undivided Goscote Wapentake, is a location which by the early thirteenth century is initially recorded as an unusual Gosefot .This may have been an earlier Gosecot at which the men of the wapentake assembled and which gave it its name (v. Introduction xiii and Wymeswold f.ns. (a)). Whether the unique survival Gosecoteho (wap ') 1168 P (with OE  hōh 'a promontory') preserves the name of the later East Goscote Hundred moot-site or that of the postulated site in Wymeswold must remain unresolved.

The other Leicestershire hundreds of Framland, Gartree, Guthlaxton and Sparkenhoe are all named from topographical features. Not so Goscote. It is uncertain, however, whether the name Goscote specifies a habitation site, a 'Gōsa's cottage' (with the OE  masc. pers.n. Gōsa (Gōsan gen.sg.) and cot ), or whether it simply represents an OE  gōsacot 'a shelter for geese' (with OE  gōs (gōsa gen.pl.)). The former interpretation may seem the likelier, since a shelter for geese must have been an ephemeral thing and so perhaps an unlikely landmark for a moot-site. However, the surviving form Gosencote 1086 DB, upon which a pers.n. interpretation of the name may be postulated, is unique and because it has to be set beside thirteen forms in Gosecot (e ) in the same earliest source, it is uncertain what weight may be given to it. It may be thought that a 'goose-cote' was a common medieval phenomenon and for that reason the latter explanation of the name of the hundred is likelier. However, it should be noted that only one very late possible instance (Goose coat 1842TA , YW 69) is otherwise recorded in the entire published corpus of the English Place-Name Survey.