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Alderbury & Whaddon

Local History Research Group







Alderbury & Whaddon – where did their names come from?

Alderbury and Whaddon are ancient village settlements, with evidence of occupation since at least Mesolithic times. In keeping with this heritage, the village names also have a long history. The name ‘Alderbury’ is believed to be derived from Æthelware byrig, meaning Æthelwearde’s fortified place. [Æthelwearde is a female name]. ‘Byrig’ is the derivative of the old English ‘burh’, a word applied to prehistoric earthworks, Iron Age camps and later, to Saxon defence works. The name Æthelware byrig is known to have been in use in 972 AD, although by 976 AD, it had become Ædeluuaraburth. In Domesday (1086), it is recorded as Alwarberie and Alwaresberie, possibly after Alward the Priest. The name went through a number of changes through mediaeval times, including Ailwardesberie (1195), Alwardesburie (1288), Alrebury (1341) and Alewardbury (1476). In the ‘Longford Manuscript’, believed to have been written in the late seventeenth century, the village name is said to be derived from ‘Ailwardus’, a man of great possessions as appears by virtue of a charter of Henry II confirming the lands of the Church of New Sarum. This adds credence to the use of the name ‘Alewardbury’. It is a short step from these latter versions to the modern name.


Whaddon has similarly been through a number of changes, traceable from ancient times. The earliest known name is believed to have been derived from the old English Hwœt-denu meaning ‘valley where the wheat is grown’. As the area is substantially flat, it may be an early corruption of denu for valley. By Domesday the name was recorded as Watedene. Like Alderbury, it then went through a number of corruptions, including the following: Hwatedene (1109), Watden (1242), in Waddone (1243), and in Watdene (1273). The name Whaddon first appeared in 1316







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