Ansteopality Revisited (fwd)

Tim McDaniel tmcd at
Tue Oct 22 21:55:30 PDT 1996

Master Talan has replied to me with his usual efficiency; I forward
his reply.  I rather like "Sonnenmark", or perhaps "Scireland".

                             Tim McDaniel
                        Reply-To: tmcd at
    mcdaniel at is wrong tool.  Never use this.


    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Tue, 22 Oct 1996 15:46:12 +0000
    From: Brian M. Scott <scott at>
    To: Tim McDaniel <tmcd at>
    Subject: Re: Ansteopality Revisited

> [My noted about a "Principality of Hell"]

I'll leave such matters to the seneschals and the Board; as you can
probably guess, I'd register 'Principality of Hell' if a convincing
case could be made for it as a period name.  Jaelle, of course,
probably wouldn't.

[He was until recently Pelican King of Arms, which was then
responsible for registering names.  He is rather "loose" on the
subject of possible offensiveness.  Jaelle is the current Laurel Queen
of Arms, handling name and arms registration.]

> I note some examples:
>    Devilsbit Mountain, Ireland.  (Note: it might be a false etymology
>        to assume that this is related to "Devil".  It might be, say, a
>        Gaelic name that's been Englished.  Then again, it might not; I
>        simply have no data.)

I've no information on this one.  Devil's Mother in Galway is Binn
Gharbh 'rough peak' in Irish, but another name was Machaire an
Deamhain 'demon's plain'; this was apparently mangled into 'Devil's
Mother' by the English.

>    Devil's Bridge, Wales.

No information.

>    Devil's Glen, a pass in Ireland.

In Irish An Gleann M{o'}r 'the big valley'.  One that you didn't
mention is the Devil's Punch Bowl in Co. Kerry, in Irish Poll an
Diabhail 'hole of the devil'.

In England there's Devils Water (Diveles c.1230), but the name is a
compound of old British elements meaning 'black' and 'water'.  There's
also Devils Ditch and Devils Dyke, which are names of old earthworks;
in most cases these names are mediaeval.

>    Sierra del Diablo, Mexico.
>    Mount Diablo, California (and the Diablo Range).
>    Ile de Diable, French Guiana ("Devil's Island").
>    Hellifield, England.  (Bet you $5 this has nothing to do with
>        the church's Hell, but with someone with a last name starting
>        with "Hell-" or "Hall-".)

It's probably 'Helgi's field', though there's a bare chance that it
might be 'holy field'!

>    Hell, Norway (ditto).

This may be related to modern Norwegian 'hell' (slope), or - perhaps
more likely - it may be twin to the following name.  (It also might
contain Old Norse hellir 'a cave'; I don't have any old forms for it.
This element is probably present in some place-names in the Danelaw.)

>    Hella, Iceland.

In Old Norse this word means 'a flat stone, slate'.  This is probably
the first element in the three names below: 'baek' and 'vad' are
'brook' and 'ford'.  (In modern Norwegian and probably also Danish
'halla' has become 'helle'.)

>    Hellebaek, Denmark.
>    Helleland, Norway.
>    Hellevad, Denmark.
>    nothing pertinent starting with "Satan".


> Since nobody else has said they've contacted Master Talan, I'll CC
> him on this e-mail.  Magister, do you have any quick suggestions for
> name patterns based on heat, brightness, sunlight, et cetera?  Can
> you correct any misapprehensions I still have, or give sage advice?

[Sage advice?  Sage goes well on turkey.]  Old English 'scir' (bright,
gleaming), 'sumor, sumarr' (summer), and 'wearm' (warm) are attested
place-name elements.  A hypothetical 'Scireland', 'Shireland',
'Shirland', and probably even 'Sherland' as a late form, could be from
an original OE name meaning 'bright land', though in the real world
it's more likely to be from an OE name meaning 'land belonging to the
shire'.  A hypothetical 'Warmland' is reasonable enough, I think.  The
element 'sumor' usually refers to something - a road, a ford, etc. -
that was usable only in summer, but regardless of likely period
meaning, 'Sumerland' or 'Somerland' is a reasonable Middle English

There are quite a few German place-names containing the element
'Sonne(n)-' (sun), usually referring to the sunny location.  I no
longer have access to a good book on German place-name formation, but
I'd bet that 'Sonnenmark' (sunny boundary land) would be a reasonable

Well, that's a start; if they look like moving in any particular
direction, I can probably offer variants, advice on period forms, etc.


More information about the Ansteorra mailing list