Drovers 5: Place Names

Place Names also indicate the presence of Drovers.  The use of the word “Drove” for example, as in Drovers Lane and The Drovers Inn Pub at Southend, at the Southern End of Turville Heath.
Southend Common is located in the Parish of Turville, set on the Plateau Top above its parent Village. It is one of a run of Heathland Settlements, which includes Northend and Fawley Green. The key characteristic of this Settlement is the Open Common at the heart of the area. This is enclosed by a range of traditional vernacular Cottages to the North & East.  Further South the presence of Woodland. Buildings are hidden along small Tracks that cross into the Woodland. To the West of the main road lies the large former Drovers Inn, a fine flint faced 18thC Building which provides a contrast with the Cottages opposite on the Common.

OS Map Of Oxfordshire 1st Series

The Welsh Lane out of Buckingham, leading to the Midlands and North Wales, is an obvious place name connection – but we also have the derivation of the Icknield Way to consider. This may come from Anglo Saxon ycken or yoken which according to Bauer had the meaning of Oxen.  Peake suggested the Icknield Way basically had the meaning of ‘Ox Drove‘. It pops up in various place names such as Ickenham in Middlesex, and Ickford near Wheatley, on a major route to the Royal Palace that existed at Brill. The prehistoric origin of the Icknield Way is now treated with caution by Historians, but there is no doubt it was used as a Green Road in the historical period and Drovers from Wales and the West Country would have taken advantage of the fact it made its way around London, providing a route to St Faith’s Fair at Norwich, one of the biggest Livestock Fairs in the Country.

Bruce Smith mentioned the term ‘Gore‘ meaning a Triangular Field, in which Cattle were funnelled, and these were used to Pasture and contain Drove herds.  Burnham Gore is a piece of grassland that has all the attributes we might attach to Manorial Waste – a piece of Common Land which was used by locals to graze their animals (or by Drovers passing through the area). Burnham Gore is situated on the Road between the Village of Dorney, on the Thames, and its piece of Upland Pasture (within the Parish of Burnham) still known as Dorneywood. The Gore would have made a stopping point on the way to the Upland and should not be assumed to have a connection with Long Distance Drovers – although they could have used it on a temporary basis.

There was a Thames crossing point near Dorney (according to Michael Bayley), a Ford used by Drovers in his grandfather’s day (the 19thC).
The Anglo-Saxons named the Village ‘Dorney’, meaning Island of Bumblebees, and now more than ever, bordered by water on all sides and with Hives on the Dorney Court Estate, the choice of name is resoundingly appropriate.
In the South-east Dorney Common is a large Traditional grassed Common, roughly triangular, which is an SSSI.  Owing to the continued use of the land for grazing, the Common offers panoramic views of Windsor Castle 2½ miles to the East.