Keith Briggs

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English place-names containing seven and nine

Many books on English place-names make the comment that the names Seven Springs and Nine Wells are common, but do not provide the evidence to back up this claim. I aim to collect such evidence here. The main questions I am interested in are:

  • How old are these formations?
  • Why are 7 and 9 preferred over other numerals?
  • Do similar names occur in other countries? (I know of Siebenbrünnen in Germany (three examples, Förstemann Ortsnamen ii, 712), Septfontaines in Luxembourg, and Sjukällan and Sju Källor in Sweden.)

Interesting 'seven' names in charters

(7 acres, 7 hides etc. not listed.)

  • S99: AD 743 for 737x740. Æthelbald to Osred; land grant: on Buruhford on foron þa spelstowe þonan on Turcandene on Seofenwyllas middeweardan of þam wyllan to Balesbeorge. A lost site near Turkdean.
  • S444: AD 938. Athelstan to Old Minster, Winchester; land grant: of earnes beorge on syfan wyllan . of syfan wyllan on hafeces del . Thought to refer to Sevington, Hants.
  • S595; AD 956. Eadwig to Ælfwine; land grant: to seofan þornum. A site in Milton, Berks.
  • S860: AD 985. Æthelred to Wulfrun; land grant: ðanon ongean stream of seofan wyllan broc. Thought to refer to Showell, Wolverhampton.
  • S694: AD 961. Edgar to the church of St Peter, Bath; land grant: Andlang broces ongean stream on þa westran seofon wyllas. A lost site near South Stoke, Somerset.
  • S737: AD 966. Edgar to Ælfgifu; land grant: of þanne hlawe 7lang stræte to seofan hlawan, of seofan hlawan to þan anum hlawe. A lost site near Linslade, Bucks.
  • S784: AD 972. Edgar to Ælfflæd; land grant: of þam ellenne on seofon beorgas . of seofon beorgas innan colta beorg. A lost site near Kennett, Wilts.
  • S979: AD c.1023x1032. Cnut to Æthelwine, and the brethren of Athelney; land grant: in loco qui uulgariter dicitur Seofenempton famossisimae familiae. Refers to Seavington, Somerset.
  • S999: AD 1043. King Edward to Ælfstan; land grant: Carta regis Edwardi de Seuenhantune. ... mansas ubi dicitur æt Seofonhæmtune libens donabo. Refers to Sevington in Leigh Delamere, Wilts. ST 869 788

seven springs

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Sewell Houghton Regis, Beds SP995229 Smith; Ekwall; BdHu:129 Sewelle DB. On slope overlooking tributary of Ouzel
Showell(s) Oxfordshire   several instances - see below
Showell Farm Wilts ST908709 OS ?
Showell Grange Telford SJ722248 OS ? - Showell's Mill, Edgmond Parish Register 1749
Showells Welford, Berks. SU414720 Bks:274 
Sywell Northants SP825675 Nth:139 see below
Seawell Blakesley, Northants. SP630525 see below 
Seawell Cottages Northants RSN "also called Seven Springs" - same as previous?
Seven Wells (f.n.) Apethorpe, Northants TL025955 Nth:40 where is it exactly? - there are springs here
Seven Wells Farm Stoke Doyle, Northants TL022862 Nth:40 Sevenwells Spring on modern map - note pub Shuckburgh Arms
Seven Wells Barnwell, Northants TL050848? RSN where is it?
Seven Springs Sulgrave, Northants SP556448? RSN where is it?
Sewell's Pond Fawsley, Northants.  Nth:23 - cf. Sewellmede 1333, Seywell 1791 
Sowell (Farm) Devon ST072101 D:565 see below
Seven Springs Cannock Chase, Staffs. SK032147 Horovitz p. 482-3 
Seven Springs Staffs. SK004206 Horovitz p. 482-3 
Seven Springs Staffs. SK006180 Horovitz p. 482-3 
Showell(s) Staffs. SJ9201 Horovitz p. 492 seofan wyllan (broc) 985 (12C)
Showell Bank Springhill, Staffs. SO8795 Horovitz p. 492 
Sewalmedowe Barton-under-Needwood SK185185 Horovitz p. 492 1415 and 1494 - beware personal name Sæwald
The Seven Wells Old Winchester Hill, Hants SU646204 OS so in 1872 (OS map)
Sevington Tichborne, Hants SU574296 Ekwall syfan wyllan 938, BCS 731; OS 1872 457951,129369
Seven Wells Over Stowey, Sedgemoor; Somerset ST17793740 ADS 
Seven Wells Down Corton Denham, Somerset ST645218 OS source of River Yeo
Seven Wells Wood Adscombe, Somerset ST173377 OS 
Seven Wells Campden Ashes, Gloucs SP119346 OS 
Seven Springs Gloucs.  several instances - see below 
Seven Wells Gloucs.  several instances - see below 
S[i|y]nwell Wotton under Edge, Gloucs. ST765933 1777 Gl:2.258. See below. 
Seven Wells Gwryhd, Powys SO070847 OS 
Seven Springs Danebank, Cheshire SJ986841 OS 
Sevewelles, Sewelles Cambs PN Cambs p. 351 1250. Where is this?
Sywelle Cambs PN Cambs p. 351 1395. Where is this?
Sewell Wilts PN Cambs p. 351 "PN Wilts 94, 107-8". Does this exist, or is it the Beds. one?
Setfontaynes Essex PN Essex p. 598 so in 1307
Seuewelledale Derbyshire Derbys. Arch. Soc. xxii, 24, cited in Nth:139 where is it?

seven trees

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Seven Ash West Bagborough; Taunton Deane; Somerset ST15413329 ADS 
Seven Ashes Staffs. ?SJ9535 Horovitz p. 482 7 asshes 1577
Sevenash Devon ST155335 Smith or Seven Ash (OS)
Seabatch Sussex Smith 'Seven beeches', OE béce. Is this Seabeach SU 926 098?
Sevenoaks Kent TQ525555 Ekwall Sevenac 1200
Seven Sisters Tottenham, Middx. PN Middx. p. 79 from seven elms: 7 Sesters 1754

seven hills

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Seven Lows Delamere; Vale Royal; Cheshire SJ56336703 ADS 
Seven Barrows Eastleach; Cotswold; Gloucestershire SP18740854 ADS 
Seven Barrows Lambourn; West Berkshire; Berkshire SU328828 ADS 
Seven Barrows Burghclere; Basingstoke And Deane; Hampshire SU4655 ADS 
Seven Barrows Oakley; Basingstoke And Deane; Hampshire SU59405015 ADS 
Seaborough Devon ST425069 Smith 'Seven barrows', OE beorg
Seaborough Dorset PN Dorset 303 Seveberge DB
Seaborough Mucking, Essex PN Essex 164 more likely personal name Seofa?
Sewborwens Cumberland Smith; Signposts p. 141 'Seven burials', OE burgaesn
Seven Barrows Farm Wareham St Martin; Purbeck; Dorset SY9188 ADS 
Seven Hills Barrow Group Little Livermere; St Edmundsbury; Suffolk TL8673 ADS 
Seven Hills Brettenham; Breckland; Norfolk TL9081 ADS 
Seven Hills Foxhall; Suffolk TM22454115 ADS 
Seven Hills Trimley St Martin; Suffolk TM2539 ADS 
Seven Mounds St Cuthbert Out; Mendip; Somerset ST568499 ADS 
Hallsenna Cumberland Smith 'Seven hills', OE haugr

seven other things

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Soussons Devon SX680790 Smith 'Seven stones', OE stán
Sevenhampton Gloucestershire SP034216 Ekwall uncertain
Sevenhampton Swindon SU209903 OS ?
Sevington Worcestershire Ekwall uncertain - is this an error for Wilts ST 869 788?
Seven Farms Essex PN Essex p. 411 really "forms"
Seven Kings Essex PN Essex p. 99 uncertain (but old - Sevekyngg(es) 1285)
Seven Star Green Essex TL935256 PN Essex p. 386 
Seven Dials St. Giles-in-the-fields, Middx. PN Middx. p. 116 (les) Seven Dials 1707
River Seaton Cornwall ERN very uncertain. Celtic '7'???

Bartholemew's Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles (1904) contains additionally these names (as well as some Scottish and Irish examples): Seven Tors, Devon; Seven Oaks, Cheshire 4m NW of Northwich; Seven Wells, Quantocks, Somerset.

Sowell (Farm), Devon ST 072 101 D:565

  • Souewella 1223
  • Seuewell 1244
  • Seuewyll 1329
  • Souewille 1333
  • Sowyll 1498
"several springs near here." (D:565)

Showell, Oxfordshire (several instances)

  1. Showell Farm, Little Tew SP 358 291 Ox:291
    • Sevewelle 1086
    • Sivewelle 1086
    • Sefewella c.1154-63
    • Seuelle 1207
    • Sewelle 1241-64
    • Swelles 1252
    • Sowelle 1278-9
    • Showel early 18th
  2. Showell Covert, Steeple Barton SP 451 255 Ox:249 (on same river (Dorn?) as previous), not on modern OS map.
    • Seuelle 1210
    • Seuewellestlade 1210-40
    • Sewelle late 13th
    Note also Seven Springs House, Steeple Aston SP 472 255 (not on 1884-5 OS map).
  3. Showells Farm, Crawley SP 342 134 (source of stream affluent to R. Windrush)
  4. Showells Spring, Crawley Ox:314.
    • Showel Spring1822
  5. Showels (f.n., Wheatley) Ox:194. No early forms, but see next.
  6. Short Shouell Furlong 17th (f.n., Wheatley) Ox:194 (same as previous? Referred to shovelbrede - if correct, unrelated to '7'.)
  7. Showels Mead (f.n., Aston Bampton) Ox:465
  8. Seven Springs (f.n., Swinbrook, near South Lawn) Ox:291 SP 285 145 on Modern OS map and 1885 OS map
    • Sunbroc 1146
    • Simbroc
    • Swenbroc etc.

Seven Wells or Springs, Gloucestershire (several instances)

  1. Seven Springs, Coberley (source of the Churn) SO 968 169 Gl:1.153
    • Seven Wells Head 1760
    • Seven wells 1777
  2. Seven Springs, Dodington ST 751 799 Gl:3.48
  3. Seven Springs, Eastington 1830 Gl:1.172 SP 130 131
  4. Seven Wells, Naunton Gl:1.200 SP 115 234
  5. Seven Wells (ground), Upper Slaughter 1847 Gl:1.209 SP 155 232. Exact location?
  6. S[i|y]nwell, Wotton under Edge, Gloucestershire ST 765 933 Gl:2.258
    • Suuen well' 1248
    • Synwel' 1248
    • Sinwell 1541
    • Synwell 1541
    • Sunwell 1624

Seawell, Blakesley, Northamptonshire SP 630 525 Nth:40

  • Sewell(e) 1086
  • Sewewell 12th
  • Seuewell 1220-35-42
  • Seywell Close, Seawell Coppice 1681
  • Se(y)well 1761
  • Seywell 1930

On a hill, near a minor tributary of R. Tove. Caswell near.

Sywell, Northamptonshire SP 825 675 Nth:139

  • Snewelle 1086
  • Siwell(a) 1086
  • Seywell 1287

Near source of a tributary of R. Nene. Airfield.


  1. Gloucestershire SP 033 214
    • Sevenhamton(e) 1086
    • Se[u|v]enhampton(e) 1248-1698
    • Seuehamton 1221
    • Sevehamton 1241
    • Seves-, Sevezhampton 1327
    • Sevanton 1437
    • Sevanton (-als. Sen{n)yngton) 1575
    • Semynton 1577
    • Seynhampton 1604
    Nearby at SP 024 217 is the abandoned village of Sennington which must have the same name.
  2. Worcestershire Wo:107
  3. Wiltshire SU 205 906 W:27,107

Meaning uncertain. See Wo:35 and W:107.


  1. Somerset ST 405 147.
    • Seofenempton c. 1025

Interesting 'nine' names in charters

There are none.

nine wells

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Nine Well Close Herts PN Herts p. 284 "Nynewells t. Hy 8, Court Rolls."
Nine Wells Gt. Shelford, Cambs TL462542 PN Cambs p. 88 "the Nine Wells 1575" - picture below
Great Nine Wells Thriplow, Cambs TL452473 PN Cambs p. 90 "so c. 1825"
Little Nine Wells Whittlesford, Cambs TL452473 PN Cambs p. 98 "so c. 1825"
Nine Wells Pembrokeshire SM788248 OS 
Ninewells Joyford, Gloucs. SO582129 OS 
Ninewells Dundee NO357304 OS 
Ninewells Chepstow SO519028 OS 
Ninewells Perth & Kinross NO075436 OS 
Nine Wells Westmoreland PN We:2.116 1859; on Knock Fell
Nine-wells Cumbria PN Cu:69 field-name "the Well or Fountain call'd the Nine-wells" 1704
Ninewell Heads Northumberland Beckensall p.66 f.n. 1580-1630
Nine Springs Yeovil Wade 
Nine Wells Oathlaw; Angus NO509558 ADS 
Nine Maiden's Well Glamis; Angus NO384472 ADS 
Nine Wells Newburgh; Fife NO224171 ADS 
Ninewells Farm Newburgh; Fife NO224169 OS 
Nine Wells Lesceave Cliff; Breage; Kerrier; Cornwall SW59572653 ADS 
Ninewells Chirnside NT869561 ADS 
Ninewells Farm Caputh; Perth And Kinross NO076434 ADS 
Ninewells Brampton; Carlisle; Cumbria NY50896161 ADS 
Nine Springs Farm Shropshire SO596768 ADS 


nine trees

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Nine Ashes Herts PN Herts p. 193 "so in 1728"
Nine Ashes High Ongar, Essex PN Essex p. 75 "Nine Ash 1768"
Nine Elms Swindon SU112858 OS 
Nine Elms Lambeth  

nine hills

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Highley Hill Herts Smith; PN Herts p. 153 Nylowe 1313; 'Nine Hills', OE hláw
Nine Barrow Down Dorset SZ0081 Watts 
Nine Standards Rigg Cumbria Watts 
Nine Barrows Somerset Wade "to find which take the Wells road"
Nine Barrow Down Whitecliff Farm & Ballard Down; Swanage; Purbeck; Dorset SZ02738123 ADS 
Priddy Nine Barrows Chewton Mendip; Mendip; Somerset ST53865174 ADS 

nine other things

namelocationgrid refreferencenotes
Nine Acre Wood Essendon, Herts Smith; PN Herts p. 225 "Cf. Nynacres 1360"
Ninebanks Northumberland Smith; Ekwall Ekwall: Ninebenkes 1228
Noonstones Cumberland Smith 
Nynehead Somerset Smith OE híd
Stowe Nine Churches Northants SP639577 Smith 

Bartholemew's Survey Gazetteer of the British Isles (1904) contains additionally these names (as well as some Scottish and Irish examples): Nine Ladies, Derbyshire; Nine Maidens, Cornwall; Nine Mile Water (river), Hants; Nine Stones, Devon.

abbreviations and references

  • OS: on modern Ordnance Survey map
  • PN: volumes of the English Place-Name Society
  • ADS: Archaeology Data Service
  • RSN: The River System of Northamptonshire, Pt 1, Springs, by Beeby Thompson (Journal of Northants Nat. Hist. Soc. Vols XVIII, XIX), cited in PN Surrey page xliv
  • A H Smith: English place-name elements, 1956
  • M Gelling: Signposts to the past, 1978
  • E Ekwall: Concise Oxford dictionary of English place-names
  • E Ekwall: English river-names, 1928
  • V Watts: The Cambridge dictionary of English place-names, 2004
  • Beckensall: Northumberland Field Names, n.d.
  • D Horovitz: The Place-Names of Staffordshire, 2005
  • Wade: Somerset: G.W. Wade and J.H. Wade, Methuen n.d. (before 1941?)


Many thanks to Paul Cullen, David Horovitz, Tom Ikins, and Richard Coates for contributions.

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