• Biscopes-tun, muneca-tun and preosta-tun: dating, significance and distribution

      Pickles, Thomas; University of Chester (English Place-Name Society, 2009-08-06)
      Margaret Gelling hypothesised that ‘X’s tūn’ place-names were coined in the later Anglo-Saxon period, to replace earlier names for the places to which they refer. Here, the dating, significance and distribution of the place-names biscopes-tūn, muneca-tūn and prēosta-tūn is considered. Ultimately, the study supports Gelling’s hypothesis, suggesting that they were often coined in the later eighth, ninth, tenth or eleventh century. It argues that these names often signified portions of land set aside for the use of bishops, monks and clergy as a result of two parallel processes: royal and episcopal expropriation of religious communities and their estates, and movements to reform religious communities. The distribution of these names is considered to reflect regional differences in levels of ecclesiastical landowning in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries, which seems to add weight to this hypothesis about the date at which many of them were coined. Finally, two historical implications of these names are discussed: the scale of expropriation and reform, and the nature of ecclesiastical organisation in the Danelaw.