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Help me solve a geographical mystery please!

(39 Posts)
CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 24-Aug-14 20:12:37

DS has asked a question while we're watching Countryfile. <geeks>

If Worcester is in Worcestershire and Derby is in Derbyshire, why isn't there a town in Berkshire called Berk? All the other Shire counties seem to be named for a town except Berkshire (where we live, so he really wants to know the answer!)


??????????? grin

scaevola Sun 24-Aug-14 20:15:21

There's no Shrop either.

Bingbongbinglybunglyboo Sun 24-Aug-14 20:15:29

Wiltshire, there is no wilt.

GalaxyInMyPants Sun 24-Aug-14 20:16:16

And why isn't County Durham durhamshire?

GalaxyInMyPants Sun 24-Aug-14 20:16:35

There's no Bed either.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 24-Aug-14 20:16:53

In that case, what are Shropshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire named for?

It's a county conundrum!

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 24-Aug-14 20:17:13

There is Bedford though Galaxy!

MarthasHarbour Sun 24-Aug-14 20:17:26

Cheshire - there is no Che ( but there is a Chester)

reallywittyname Sun 24-Aug-14 20:20:22

And wtf is Kent?

Pico2 Sun 24-Aug-14 20:24:32
fledtoscotland Sun 24-Aug-14 20:25:19

I think 'shire relates to land belonging to the crown. Other counties were divisions of land relating to local landowners/gentry but not royalty.

MaidOfStars Sun 24-Aug-14 20:25:36

Wiltshire is named for Wilton (historic county town). I bet there are similar stories for other non-obvious shires.

Kimaroo Sun 24-Aug-14 20:25:57

Î know! I know! Well Wiltshire anyway.... Wilton used to be the county town grin

BoredPanda Sun 24-Aug-14 20:25:58

Shropshire comes from an Old English word for Shrewsbury-shire, I think?

MaidOfStars Sun 24-Aug-14 20:27:33

Cross post
and Ha ha ha I win

Kimaroo Sun 24-Aug-14 20:27:54


Cornflakesnmilk Sun 24-Aug-14 20:28:24

When Local Government outside Greater London was forced into a common pattern of county and districts in 1974, many of the new administrative counties were given Administrative Headquarters which were different from the traditional county towns.

Shropshire is a reduction of the name Shrewsburyshire, Hampshire was originally Hamtunshire, Hamtun being the present Southampton. Devon comes from "the district of the tribe of Dummonii.

Paleodad Sun 24-Aug-14 20:29:03

can help a bit with why it is 'County' Durham.
Durham was a county palatine, meaning that the lord, or in Durham's case the Bishop, could exercise special powers normally reserved for the Crown (raising taxes, establishing laws etc.)
Durham was pretty much a 'state within a state' in days gone by, essentially acting as a bufferzone between England and Scotland, with the Bishop ruling over the county (hence 'The land of the Prince Bishops' nickname). County Durham is thus a contraction of the 'County Palatine of Durham'.
(disclaimer: this is how I understand it, and i reserve the right to be partially/utterly wrong)

GalaxyInMyPants Sun 24-Aug-14 20:30:24

I forgot Bedford. blush

<daft Northerner>

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 24-Aug-14 20:36:23

Aha! So I have shared the stories of Shropshire, Wiltshire and County Durham with DS (6). He is still disappointed about the lack of knowledge about why Berkshire is called Berkshire!

Stratter5 Sun 24-Aug-14 20:38:26


SpidersDontWashTheirHands Sun 24-Aug-14 20:39:05

There's no Cum in Cumbria. Sorry, couldn't help myself blush

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 24-Aug-14 20:39:55

Well that's another whole can of worms isn't it Stratters? wink

Sussex and Essex, fine.

There was a Wessex, but where did it go?

And was there ever a Norex or perhaps Nossex?.

Copied and pasted from Wikipedia. Named after trees apparently

The county is one of the oldest in England. It may date from the 840s, the probable period of the unification of "Sunningum" (East Berkshire) and "Ashdown" (the Berkshire Downs, probably including the Kennet Valley). The county is first mentioned by name in 860. According to Asser, it takes its name from a large forest of box trees that was called Bearroc (believed, in turn, to be a Celtic word meaning "hilly").[5]

And don't forget Hampshire. Not sure of the origins of that one.

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