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Stratford sub Castle - name origins & spelling variations

History of name PDF
1571 map.png

extract from a 1571 map

1646 map.png

extract from
a 1646 map

1775 map.png

extract from
a 1775 map

Possibilities for the FORD in Stratford include:

  • That from the Roman settlement around Castle Keep crossing near Tadpole Island in a line with Folly Lane, probably the oldest of these options and the southernmost;

  • Somewhere around the Avon Bridge and Dean’s Farm as part of the village of Stratford Dean and as the northernmost of these options;

  • Between these two, from Mill Lane (Stinkpot Alley) and by the mill(s).

Under Ditch.JPG

Most of the village for most of the post Domesday years has been in the Hundred of Underditch. Its spelling too has been fluid.


Kerry O'Connor (revised Jan 2022)

Further Information


A 1662 map of the Underditch Hundred is on this webpage.

Hundred of Underditch
The 'ford' in Stratford
service tree KMOC.jpg

Image left - wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis).

The Romans would have recognised the wild service tree from elsewhere in their empire. The Antonine itinerary tells us “Sorbi his in locis magnâ proveniunt copiâ, the wild service tree was abundant” around here.1 There has long been a theory that this tree of the genus Sorbus is the origin of the Roman name Sorbiodunum 2,3,4 which by a linguistic process called betacism became Sorviodunum and then the Saxon Searisbyrig, then Sarisburie and eventually Salisbury. They may have just translated a pre-Roman name Caer-Sarflog, or "the fortified place abounding with the Service Tree,"3,5,6,7,8 which is first recorded as the residence of Ergen, daughter of Caradoc (Caractacus).5,6

The Service tree was also known as the chequers tree because of some perceived patterning on the bark or fruits. Its fruits, sorb apples, became known as chequers, these were used to flavour an ale (long before the use of hops) by Gauls and Britons.9 The Latin for ale was a Gallic word cer(e)visia, in modern Spanish beer is cerveza, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a yeast used in brewing, Cervisia was a beer brewed in Italy but as a brand name is now held by Heineken. This may be the origin of the name service tree, the ale tree. This ale was sold in chequers inns, and the building grid squares in early Salisbury tended to take their names from the inns or breweries. This is possibly the origin of the chequers in Salisbury and the Prime Minister’s Country House in Buckinghamshire.

Other theories are available.

Kerry O’Connor          March 2023                                              See also - When did Sarum get put on the map?

1 Gale T, 1709 Antonini Iter Britanniarum А Commentariis Illuſtratum. Revised and Edited, iter XV, p137. The original was probably 3rd C

2 Aubrey, J. Second half of 17thC The Natural History of Wiltshire. Edited by Britton, J. 1847 p56

3 Pulleyn, W. 1853 The Etymological Compendium, Or, Portfolio Of Origins And Inventions. p348

4 Hall, P. 1834 Picturesque Memorials Of A Series Of Original Etchings And Vignettes, Illustrative Of The Most Interesting Buildings, And Other Remains Of Antiquity, In That City And Neighbourhood. To Which Is Prefixed, A Brief History Of Old And New Sarum. p1

5 Equire, E G. 1852 New Rsearches at Sarum and Stonehenge. The Literary World Vol 10 Iss 259 January 17th 1852 p52

6 Murray, J. 1882 Handbook for travellers in Wiltshire, Dorsetshire and Somersetshire p112

7 Maunder, S. 1840 The treasury of knowledge and library reference. p348

8 Moule, T. 1838 The English counties delineated; or A topographical description of England. Illustrated by a map of London, and a complete series of county maps. Vol. 1 p480

9 Flower, T B. 1866 On the Flora of Wiltshire. The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, Vol. IX p67

Origin of name Salisbury
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