Tuesday, March 2, 2010


We don't know much about the man who gave his name to Wolverton - in fact we don't know anything other than his name. But the name can tell us something.
The Wolf was much admired by the Saxons, possibly because of its ability to hunt effectively in packs - a shared characteristic - so it is a popular name in these times. "Here" (pronounced Hair) was one of the Anglo Saxon words for army. The other was fyrd. In the Anglo Saxon Chronicle the word "here" tends to be applied to the invading Danes and the "fyrd" is the local militia. We might deduce that "here" is used in the sense of a marauding army, so we could translate Wulfhere as Wolf (chief of) the marauding army. Wolf the Marauder perhaps.
There was a Wulfhere who was a king of Mercia, and quite a successful one too and he has given his name to some other Wolvertons, but our Wulfhere, although a chief of sorts, was nowhere near as mighty.
Wolverton's name develops from Wulfhere's ing tun. An ing is a meadow or grazing land. A tun is an enclosure. So the ing tun is an enclosed or hedged field. This probably indicates that Wulfhere had sufficient status to own cattle and to arrange for them to be enclosed and protected.
Wulfhere's ingtun becomes Wolfrington and then Wolverton.
This explained, the next question is why would this be important enough to assign a name that would still be important 1500 years later? Well if Wulfhere was a chief then those who depended on him for protection would come to his tun to pay their various tributes. Thus the tun became an important centre.
Many of them, like Wolverton and its neighbour Calverton, lost importance over the ages and Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell became more significant trading centres.
As we know some tuns became larger market centres in the middle ages and the word became town - which we today associate with an urban centre.
Town life started in a field!

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