With the up-coming release of Cambridgeshire Place Names talks in the county on that very subject are on the horizon. Thus here is a taster.
Domesday lists this name as Barentone, a name taking a Saxon personal name and adding Old English tun to refer to 'Bara's farmstead'.
One local road has the unusual name of Whole Way. This comes from old English holh weg and refers to 'the road through the hollow', it covers the way to Harlton. Stead Lane takes its name from stede, simply meaning 'place, position' and referring to a certain spot on the road, not the destination.
Cracknow Hill means 'crack waggon hill', a reference to how steep it is, thus likely to break any waggon, particularly an overladen one. Edix Hill Hole may be a diminutive for Edward, while there is no doubt the original reference was to the Saxon cemetery here. Fox Hill Down Farm describes the 'hill or valley (ostensibly different aspects of the same thing) by the nook frequented by foxes', Wilsmere Down Farm was originally 'Wulfmaer's down or slope', and Balk Plantation is from balke a word denoting 'an unworked ridge separating two cultivated strips'.
Barrington Hall was once home to the Bendyshe family. While the building and spacious grounds date back to the seventeenth century, with later obviously Georgian improvements, the family can trace their family back much further and are one of the oldest in the county.
The local here has one of the most common names in the country, indeed the Royal Oak is probably second only to the Red Lion in popularity. It commemorates one of the most famous episodes in English history when, following defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles II and his aide Colonel Carless hid in the Boscobel Oak while the Parliamentarians walked just feet below them during this stage of the pursuit. Years later, at the Restoration of the Monarchy, the king's birthday of 29th May was declared Royal Oak Day.
I would welcome any suggestions for themes or subjects, or even specific words to examine the origins, meanings and etymologies. I’d be delighted to hear from you.