An exchange with a LOL user this week (26-08-14) raised the issue of how places get their names. Sadly the most common reason is that some ancient Anglo Saxon or thereabouts was credited with owning a field, hill, valley, hamlet or any other place.
The alternative is the more interesting possibility that the name is an old word describing the place in some way. Thus we find that Lyng has this entry in a useful source on the subject:
Lyng - 'Bank'.
hlinc (Old English) A bank, a ledge; a terrace; a ledge of ploughland on a hillside; an unploughed strip between fields. Source: http://kepn.nottingham.ac.uk/map/place/Norfolk/Lyng
Now this possibility explains the fact that in some references Lyng is spelt Ling (the tithe map in the church for example). But given that the land here is underpinned with gravel and sand and that there is plenty of gorse, broom and heather around the other more prosaic definition cannot be entirely ruled out – Lyng ir Ling may equal Heather.
The exchange however concerned the even more interesting Fustyweed, that collection of older houses between Lyng and Elsing. Some time ago, I found a reference to 'fusty' (see here ) and the immediate reference is shown here, above. When I checked around it seemed likely that it either refers to a crop grown in the locality in the past or to the fact that an unpleasant plant grew there (unpleasant but possibly medicinally valuable?).
There is reason to support the idea since otherwise the existence of a hamlet at this spot is a little surprising. The houses are generally of artisan size too. And the settlement never grew to include either a church or another mill. But it is unusually blessed being on a sheltered side of the valley but with open meadows to the north. Readers might find this jotting interesting: http://torturedcreative.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/fustyweed.html
From that I went off to find out what I could about some more names:
Elsing: 'Elesa's people'.
Elesa pers.n. (Old English) Personal name
-ingas (Old English) The people of . . . ; the people called after . . .
Sparham: 'Spar homestead/village' or 'spar hemmed-in land'.
spearr (Old English) A spar, a shaft, a rafter.
hamm (Old English) Land hemmed in by water or marsh (perhaps also by high ground); a river-meadow; cultivated plot on the edge of woodland or moor.
hām (Old English) A village, a village community, a manor, an estate, a homestead.
Bylaugh: Uncertain. Possibly, 'funeral-pyre enclosure', or with a first element *bel, perhaps meaning 'wood/clearing/island' and not otherwise evidenced in OE.
bēl (Anglian) A fire, conflagration, funeral pyre; perhaps also a signal fire, a beacon.
bel (Old English) Interval, clearing
haga (Old English) A hedge; an enclosure; later a messuage, property.
Small thought on Bylaugh is that this is amazingly similar to a fairly common Norman origin name – Beauleiu or Beaulea and even Beauleigh. Each refers to the beauty, or more prosaically fineness, of a meadow or valley and there can be no doubt that the house that we have sits looking out across a truly beautiful valley. Indeed such a grand house, which had a precursor a little further from the hilltop towards the river and more 'in the valley' would clearly date at least as far back as the arrival of the Norman-French, whose language followed them. It's a small jump from this to Bylaugh, given dialect and English pronunciation.
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