If you compare this map to our other Hurst pages showing a plot of modern day
Hursts, you will see significantly fewer on the Domesday Data, this implies that villages named HURST(although a Saxon word)
have mostly been founded after the Domesday Book in 1086AD.
This also implies that Andredsweald at the time of the Norman Conquest was pretty much a continuous difficult to traverse forest,
with very few villages or population centers within the Forest. This would also imply that local knowledge would be needed to
pass through the forest routes unless on the Old Roman Roads.
Our initial interpretation of the term 'hurst' found in village names in Sussex was derived from hyrst
meaning 'a grove or a clearing in the forest' this seemed 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.
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'.
This map is designed to show where just the Domesday villages containing 'hurst' are located, significantly different
from the modern village plot.
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, by the local fyrd
bringing their families into the forest to escape persecution or some other factor.
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 that Saxon village names are descriptive
then this can be viewed as a logical explanation.
Total Population of the 23 Domesday Villages in 1086AD shown is 420
This would equate to a Fyrd(national service) of approximately 22 soldiers.
Please Note that the estimate for the Fyrd is based on 6% of the
population(excluding Priests and Slaves) being eligible for military duties.