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.

Whorwellsdown Hundred

Hundred in the County of Wiltshire

Historical Forms

  • (and lang) wereforesdone 964 BCS1127
  • woresotes doune 968 15th ib
  • Weruedesdona 1086 ExonDB
  • Wervedeston 1274 Ass
  • Hweruelesdena 1234 Bracton
  • Wherewelesdone 1279 Ass
  • Wheruelesdon 1289 ib
  • Whereweldoune 1402 FA
  • Weruelesdon 1249 Ass
  • Wervelesdon 1255 RH 1268 Ass 1288 FF
  • Wervollesdone 1275 RH
  • Wherflesdone 1279,1281 Ass
  • Whorlesdown 1565 WMi
  • villa de Werflesdon 1281 Ass
  • Wherflesdon 1289 ib.
  • Woreweldown 1531 FF
  • Horwells Down 1575 Hoare


All these forms refer to the hundred. The following refer to an actual place: villa de Werflesdon 1281Ass , Wherflesdon 1289 ib., Woreweldown 1531FF , Horwells Down 1575 Hoare.

The first element in this name is OE  hwyrfel recorded independently and in various compounds in OE charters. The clearest application of this word is found in the Culmstock charter (BCS 724) where it is used of a well-marked circular hill (cf. PN D 612 n.). The same word or its Scandinavian cognate is found in Whorl Hill (PN NRY 177), a high round hill in Cleveland. The primary idea is of something circular. We have it compounded with dun in the unidentified wirfuldoune in the Idmiston charter (BCS 867) and here we have a similar compound but in a genitival form. Here, as is often the case, the original name of the hill is put into the genitival form with the common word for hill added, hence hwirfles-dun , later Whorwellsdown. The pseudo-OE forms are found in late ME transcripts, setting forth the boundaries of Steeple Ashton and Edington respectively, and Whorwellsdown must be identified with the low rounded hill on which the boundaries of Steeple Ashton, Edington, Bratton and West Ashton meet, near Crosswelldown Fm infra 138. The local pronunciation is [wərlidən].