Our interpretation of the term 'hurst' found in village names in Sussex is derived from hyrst
meaning 'a grove or a clearing in the forest' this seems to be forest related not a wood as they only seem to
be in the approximate area of Andredsweald in the south east, and along the North Wales, English border.
This map is designed to show where all the 'modern' day villages containing 'hurst' are located, the boundary of this
implies the boundary of the ancient forest of Andredsweald(Saxon) or Anderida(Roman).
A plot of all the Domesday Records for the area shows a very
sparsely populated area, which corresponds quite closely to the outline shown using 'hursts'.
However the term Hurst only seemed to come into major use after the Normans created the Domesday Book in 1086AD as
this map of the Domesday villages containing hurst shows.
A significant proportion of the 'hursts' have churches from the late 1200's to the 1400's so showing that they were
founded after 1066 and before 1300.
The only influence of Population migration between those dates was the Norman Invasion, as the next major influencer
was the Black Death which didn't really appear till the mid 1300's.
This now begs the question, were the hursts founded by defeated saxon soldiers who hid in the forest or by the local fyrd
bringing their families into the forest to escape persecution.
So lets look at the word 'hurst' this doesn't appear to be a real Saxon word, but is believed, me included that
this meant 'a clearing in the forest', and as you can see from the green outline on the map it does seem to show the
extent of the forest of Andredsweald.
OK so what saxon words could this be made up of, assuming these were settled by the loosing Saxon
soldiers. We have 'here' which means army and 'stæþ' meaning a place(or stay), the þ is pronounced th as in the
English word thick, so will sound a bit like 'herestayth' which could be simplified to herst/hurst. So we now have a
definition of hurst meaning 'army place' or 'army settlement'. I know you may not be convinced however following the logic
re Saxon village nemaes used this can be viewed as a logical explanation.
Total Villages shown on this map is 379