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.

Flendish Hundred

Hundred in the County of Cambridgeshire

Historical Forms

  • Flamingdice, Flammindic, Flammidinc, Flammiding 1086 DB
  • Flammincdic, Flammigedic, Flammicgedic, Flammingedich, Flammedigedig 1086 InqEl
  • Flamencdic 1086 ICC
  • Flammedich 1155–7 P
  • Flamedich(e) 1175–9 1251 ElyCouch 1277 Ely 14th Cai
  • Flaundishe 1553 Pat
  • Flem(e)dich(e), Flem(e)dych(e) 1188 P 1523 SR
  • Flemesdich 1218 SR 1284 FA 1298 Ass
  • Flemedic 1218 SR
  • Flemdik(e), Flemdyk(e) 1268,1285 Ass
  • Flem(i)sdich 1279 RH
  • Flemdisch 1372 SR
  • Flem(e)dys(s)h 1457 IpmR 1523 SR
  • Flendiche 1428 FA 1570 SR
  • Flendishe, Flendyshe t.Hy6 Colexxxvii 1560 Depositions
  • Flendick 1570 SR
  • Flyndiche 1553 Pat
  • Flyndysshe 1557 ib
  • Flemigdich' 1279 RH


The hundred is named from Fleam Dyke supra 35, its northern boundary. Skeat's suggestion that the first element was OFr  Flamenc , 'Fleming,' can scarcely be accepted in the light of the full 11th-century forms, nor is Anderson's explanation (EHN i, 100–1) altogether satisfactory. He takes it to be OE  flēmena -dīc , 'fugitives' dyke' (OE  flēma , flīema , 'fugitive'), possibly influenced first by OE  flēming , 'fugitive,' and later by ME  fl me < OE flēam , 'flight,' a word found in Flamstead (PN Herts 32). More probably we have to start with OE  flēminga -dīc , 'dyke of the fugitives.' For this type of name cf. Wrekendike (Du), a Roman road, which Ekwall (DEPN) explains as OE  wræccna dīc , 'dyke of the fugitives.' The earth-work is certainly post-Roman and was probably constructed at a time of great danger by the East Anglians in the late pagan or early Christian period to protect their frontier against the Middle Anglians. It runs across the narrow belt of open country between forest and fen, the most easily defensible position on a vulnerable frontier, and was at one time, as excavation has proved, the scene of fierce fighting (v. Fox 125, 129–31, 292–4).Some such struggle, ending in the defeat and flight of the East Anglians, may have given rise to the name.

References to the dyke itself by name are rare and late, but one (Flemigdich '1279 RH) shows a trace of the medial -ing -. Most of our forms are for the hundred-name on which AN influence is likely to be strong. Further, three of our forms for the dyke itself refer to the holding there of an earl's tourn. The early disappearance of all trace of the medial -ing - is, therefore, probably to be compared with that found in such names as Hinckford Hundred in contrast to the fuller form preserved in the parish name of Hedingham, both deriving from the same first element (cf. PN Ess 405, 438–9 and IPN 97). -dish is much too late a development to be ascribed to AN influence. The hundred probably met at Mutlow Hill in Great Wilbraham (supra 138).

Anderson's suggestion (EHN i, 101) that we have a counterpart of this name in le Flemdich (AD v, in Little Waltham, Ess) cannot be upheld. The frequency of this type of name was noted in PN Ess 578 where a connexion with OE  flīema was suggested. Further examples make this unlikely. A fleame was “the water-course or race of a millstream, the channel of water from the main stream to the mill, below which the streams unite. It also describes a large trench or main carriage in water, cut in meadows to drain them” (ER xlv, 135). Cf. the reference to the presentation of Peter Cleare at Rochford (Ess) in 1638 for encroaching upon the glebe “by landing up part of a Fleame or Brook Ditch” (ib.). See also PN Mx 3.

Parishes in this Hundred