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.

Guthlaxton Hundred

Hundred in the County of Leicestershire

Historical Forms

  • Gvtlakiston 1086 DB
  • Gutlakestan 1202 ChancR
  • Guðlachestan 1167 P
  • Guthlakestan 1247 Fees
  • Gudlachestan 1176 P
  • Gudlakestan 1170,1171 1175 ChancR 1177,1178 P 1210 ib
  • Gudlakistan 1175 ib
  • Gudelakestan 1183 ib
  • Gudlacstan 1180 ib
  • Guðlakeston 1166 P
  • Guthlakeston 1195 1272 Cur
  • Guthlacston l.13 GarCart
  • Guthlaxton 1254 Val 1301 Ass 1332 SR
  • Guthlaxton 1316 FA 1327 SR 1402,1428 FA
  • Gutlacston 1265 Misc 1274 Ipm
  • Gutlaxston 1314 GarCart
  • Gutlaxton 1375 IpmR
  • Gudlaceston 1167 P
  • Gudlakeston(e) 1197,1198,1203 ib
  • Gudlakston c.1291 Tax 1342 Pat 1428 FA
  • Gudlaxton 1443 Pat 1449 Fine 1518 Visit
  • Goudlokston 1392,1397 Pat 1441 Cl
  • Godlaxton 1413 Fine 1457 Ct 1465,1550 Pat
  • Godlokston 1441 ib
  • Godloxton 1432 ib
  • Goodlaxton 1510 Visit 1535 VE 1610 Speed
  • wapent(ac) 1086 DB, 1166 P et freq to 1203 ib
  • hundred 1184, 1185 ib et freq


The division is styled: wapent (ac )1086 DB, 1166 Pet freq to 1203 ib, hundred 1184, 1185 ibet freq , v. vápnatak , hundred .

'Guthlac's stone', v. stān . The masc. pers.n. Gūðlāc is Old English.Both the identity of Guthlac and the nature of the stone from which the wapentake took its name are uncertain.

At the time of the Domesday Survey, an extensive Guthlaxton Wapentake stretched from the bounds of the Gartree Wapentake in the east to those of the old Goscote Wapentake and Derbyshire's Repton Wapentake to the north and north-west. By the date of the Leicestershire Survey of c.1130, roughly two-thirds of the former Guthlaxton's territory north-west of the Roman Fosse Way had been separated from it to form the Sparkenhoe Hundred. The moot-site of the original wapentake lay beside Fosse Way at Guthlaxton Gap near Guthlaxton Bridge (SP 527961) which carried the road across a tributary of the river Soar at the northwestern bounds of Cosby parish. Cosby's north-western great open-field is recorded in the Liber de terris Dominicalibus of Leicester Abbey of 1467 × 84 as Gutlakestonfelde . Writing c.1807, Nichols noted, 'A piece of land in this (i.e. Cosby) lordship is called Guthlaxton Meadow ; and near it still remains a tumulus upon which, it is said, the Hundred Court was formerly held' (Nichols 41140). The 'tumulus' may be the small narrow ridge shown as crossing Fosse Way at this point on the 1st edn O.S. map of 1835. Otherwise, no tumulus is marked here on any later map and none is evident on the ground.

The presumed location of the erstwhile stone on the Fosse Way is six Roman miles from the western entrance to Roman Leicester (Ratae Corieltavorum ) which suggests that, rather than this being a glacial erratic such as is Hunbeorht's Stone in Humberstone (Lei 3133), it was a surviving Roman milestone on the Fosse Way, but what function it had in the Anglo-Saxon period is obscure. The fact that it marked the moot- site of Guthlaxton Wapentake may imply that it was more than simply a boundary-marker of an estate belonging to a local landowner called Guthlac. Did it rather in some sort relate to St Guthlac of Crowland?

St Guthlac (c.674–714), son of Penwald (or Penwalh), a minor prince of the royal Mercian house of the Icelingas, after a period as a warrior fighting on the western boundaries of Mercia, entered the monastery of Repton. After several years there, he moved to become a hermit in the Fens at Crowland in Lincolnshire. There is a tradition, probably spurious, that Æthelbald of Mercia founded a monastery in Guthlac's memory at Crowland on the site of his cell in 716, but his cult certainly became extensive later in eastern Mercia and his tomb was popular with pilgrims as early as the ninth century. St Guthlac's Abbey of Crowland was raised subsequently on the site of his hermitage, possibly having been laid down before the Norman Conquest, but it is recorded that the building of a great church commenced here for certain in 1114. There is a boundary marker three miles north-east of Crowland Abbey which is inscribed Hanc petram Guthlacus habet sive metam , literally 'This stone Guthlac has as his limit': another Guthlac's Stone, but this relating directly to the saint.

In the Domesday Survey, Crowland Abbey is shown to hold in Leicestershire two carucates of land in Sutton Cheney, two carucates more in Stapleton, both townships in the original Guthlaxton Wapentake, ten and a half carucates in Beeby in the former Goscote Wapentake, as well as three messuages in Leicester itself. Brian Rich (personal communication) has noted that the abbey also held two virgates of land in Barkby ante 1275, a township also in the old Goscote Wapentake (v. Rotuli Hundredorum 1 238).

There are twelve church dedications to St Guthlac in the East Midlands and East Anglia, of which five are in Lincolnshire, three are in Northamptonshire and two are in Leicestershire. The Leicestershire instances are of the churches of the adjoining former parishes of Stathern and Branston in the north-east of the county in Framland Hundred. That the churches of these two contiguous parishes relate to St Guthlac may indicate a pre-Conquest estate here also belonging to Crowland Abbey.However, nothing else of a Guthlac, other than the name of the stone, survives in Guthlaxton Hundred.

The personal-name Gūðlāc is not common in Anglo-Saxon records, apart from its recurrence in various Latin and Old English accounts of the saint's life and in two Old English poems concerning him. Only four other instances are listed in Searle's personal-name collection (v. Searle 273) and the name is not recorded in sources after 824. It is the importance of the moot-site that suggests the Guthlac of this Guthlac's Stone may have been more than a local landowner. Otherwise, its position conforms to the pattern of moot-sites in the county in relation to its Roman road system and principal township (v. Barrie Cox, 'Leicestershire moot-sites: the place-name evidence', Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society , Vol. 47 (1971–2), 14–21).