Anglo Saxon History
Map Position

This map shows the position of locations containing 'hurst' centered on Ardingly in Sussex.

Map Logic

This map shows the occurrance of villages containing 'HURST' a saxon term thought to mean 'a clearing in a wood/forest' but there is no actual Saxon word Hurst. As you can see there is a concentration of these hursts covering the area known as Silva Anderida by the Romans or Andredsweald by the Saxons, so the implication is that these villages/farms were within the area of the Ancient Forest, which in turn provides an approximate boundary map of the ancient forest. Please click the following link to just show the boundary.

Icon Key:
Roman City
Roman Bloomery
Places containing Stone

Silva-Anderida/Andredsweald boundary map
implied by Village Names containing hurst


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 logical explanation.

Total Villages shown on this map is 388

External References in no particular order :-
Original Manuscripts of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Online Anglo Saxon dictionary
Online Etymology dictionary
Open Domesday Book - The first free online copy of the Domesday Book
The Ermine Street Guard Roman re-enactment and research Society
The "Kent A" cadastre - page 5 - Peterson 2002
Archaeologia Cantiana Online
Romney Marsh Research Trust
Romney Marsh the Fifth Continent
VillageNet the reference guide to villages in Kent & Sussex
Global warming Flood Maps
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Google Maps - the core of the system
GeoPlaner - Useful site for plotting map data
Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars 55BC(Books 4 & 5)
Wikipedia - Caesar's invasions of Britain
Wikipedia - Portus Istus
The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy (Bill Thayers)
Runetree Beowulf
Bayeux Tapestry Online
The Secrets of the Norman Invasion
Chronicles of John of Worcester
Battle Historic Society
Binsted village website(Mearcredesburnan Steðe)
The Spears of Andred
Find British Archaelogical Sites
Wealden Iron Research Group


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Author: Simon M - Last Updated: 08/04/2019 14:01
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Data is derived from a number or sources including the Ordnance Survey Gazetter data overlayed onto Google Maps