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The geography of Britain, as of all the modern countries of Europe, has undergone at least two, perhaps in some parts three changes of nomenclature since the beginning of the Chris
The names of places, which occur in early British history, whilst the ancient Britons still enjoyed independence, were mostly altered or modified by the Romans. The Italian pronunciation still delights to give euphony to the Teutonic and Celtic names of the north, by adding vowels and syllabic terminations to the uncouth consonants of the native idiom.*
After the departure of the Romans, the country, now called England, but at that time Britain, was invaded and conquered by the Saxons. The first leaders of this tribe of barbarians, Hengist and Horsa, landed about the year of our Lord 449, and at the end of a hundred and fifty years, during which there were continual wars between them and the Britons, we find that the names of most of the towns were changed or in some way modified by the new-comers.t
* The British prince, who bravely opposed the invasion of Julius Cæsar, is thought to have been called Caswallon in his native tongue; but the classic ears of the Roman invaders softened the term into the more flowing majesty of Cassibellaunus or Cassibelinus.
Cunobelin or Cunobelinus was another British prince of note : he is called Cymbeline by Shakespeare.
Many instances of this change of name occur in history. In some cases, when the sound suits the idioms of both languages, a change of spelling alone takes place. Thus Daubigny, a freebooting captain of the fifteenth century, is called D'Obigni by the polite Italians, whose purses he took from them.
# In proof of this observation, we have several instances in the Ecclesiastical History of Venerable Bede, where two names are given to the same place. Thus in the
In the year 1066, William the Conqueror landed at Hastings, and in the course of bis reign nearly all the baronies and great fiefs of the crown changed hands and became the property of the Norman lords, who accompanied the duke. not doubt that many places, of less note or situated in remote districts, received new names according to the fancy or caprice of their new owners.
To these causes may be mainly ascribed the great difficulty, which we have in identifying places, as described in ancient authors, with towns and villages still existing.
There is little doubt that the town of Bampton is one of the oldest in England. The etymology of the name shows it to be of Ancient British origin, unchanged by the tide of AngloSaxon invasion, which swept away so much of British laws, customs, and language. The terminatiou -TON, which marks so many names of towns all over the island, is spelt in nearly all old manuscripts -TUNE, and was probably at first pronounced, as the modern Scotch pronounce it, -TOON. A large number of English towns end with the syllable -Don, and this terwination also is written -DUN or -DUNE in ancient manuscripts.
It is not to be denied that these terminations -Toy and - DON are also Anglo-Saxon forins, * and pass for such among lexicographers : but those who reflect on the numerous names of towns, ending in -DINUM &c. and existing over all Ancient Britain and Gaul, long before the invasion of the Saxons, can hardly avoid the inference that the Celtic language
second chapter of the first book, he says, “ The blessed Alban suffered death on the 22nd of June, near the city of Verulam, which is now by the English nation called Verlamacestir or Varlingacestir."
* It is the prevailing opinion, that the Anglo-Saxons entirely exterminated the Britons : but this is surely a mistake. The inhabitants of all the south of Britain, in the time of Julius Cæsar, were of Belgic, not of Celtic descent, and it is probable that they were kindred race to the Anglo-Saxons. If so, the victorious Anglo-Saxons would not exter
It would appear, then, from this etymology, that the name BAMPTON is equivalent to tree-town,t and we are at once led to conjecture that this appellation was given to it from the woody character of the surrounding country. There is, indeed, no doubt that the whole tract of country in which it is situated, like all swampy places frequently subject to inundation, was covered with a large forest, in memory of which the name of “ Bampton in the Bush," distinguishing the town from others, its namesakes, has descended even to our own times. I
§ 2. DESCRIPTION OF BAMPTON IN ITS PRESENT STATE.
Leaving then the etymology of the name as sufficiently ascertained for our present purpose, I shall proceed to describe the parish in its present state, with reference to its position in the county of Oxford, the nature of its soil, and its bearings in regard to other towns and places of greater importance in its vicinity.
A very slight inspection of the map of England will shew that the river called successively the Isis and the Thames, for a length of about 100 miles, forms a boundary between the counties of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. This noble stream leaves Glocestershire near the small village of Kelmscott and flowing eastwards takes a bend, first towards the north and afterwards back to the south so as to enclose a large projecting part of Berkshire. It then makes a large bend towards the east, and again ascending towards the + The explanation of Beamdune found in Bosworth's Anglo-: axon dictionary.
BEAM a tree, DUNE a hill. The name of many places in England, so called, from their elevated position, covered with 51 v0d, now corrupted into Bampton. Chr. 614.” Some of the oldest inhabitants of Bampton have informed me that in the days of
i. e. about the year 1750, there was a large hawthorn tree growing in of the market-place, near which stood an ancient cross formed out of
stones. Perhaps, this was the hawthorn with white berries mentioned Pogue of natural and artificial curiosities &c.” given in the Appendix.