Our interpretation of the term 'hurst' found in village names in Sussex is derived from a word hyrst
which is thought to mean '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 soldiers who hid in the forest or by the local fyrd
bringing their families into the forest to escape persecution or possibly the Norman Soldiers settling on land not owned
by their lords.
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? We have 'here' which means foreign 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 name definition of hurst meaning
'army place' or 'army settlement'.
The Domesday villages that are named hurst are all near Hastings and its
iron workings, and could be interpreted as the home of foreign mercenaries paid by the Haestingas to defend the
valuable resources in the area.
I know you may not be convinced however following the logic re Saxon village names, this can be viewed as a
Total Villages shown on this map is 379