Chloe Colla

Research title

Medieval Life on the Fells: Names in a Cumberland landscape c AD 800-1300.

Research summary

Medieval Cumberland played host to a vast array of cultures, populations, and languages: a fusion which has left its mark on the county’s unique landscape and language. The scarcity of documentary evidence for Cumberland, particularly in its upland areas, has contributed to a lack of research into this formative period in the county’s past. However, a rich corpus of evidence is available in the form of place-names, which were created by a series of different speech communities through time, and record their interactions with the landscape alongside aspects of culture, industry, and social organisation. My PhD research will include a comprehensive interrogation of the area’s place-name corpus, incorporating detailed analysis of the major-name evidence (names of larger features like settlements and fells) and the previously untreated minor-name evidence (names given to smaller features like fields and streams) of my study area, centred around the nineteenth-century parish of Crosthwaite in the northern Lake District.

In addition to creating a database of the unpublished minor-name evidence, through my analysis of onomastic, cartographical, archaeological, and landscape evidence, I will look to provide new insight into the populations that inhabited medieval Cumberland: their interactions, life-ways, land-use and subsistence strategies, industries, folklore, and perceptions of landscape. 


The Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities awarded me an AHRC DTP Studentship for my PhD studies at the University of Glasgow



Additional information

Member of the following societies:

Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland

Scottish Place Name Society

English Place Name Society

Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society

Lancashire Place Name Survey

Friends of Keswick Museum


Selected to participate in the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities’ material culture training course, ‘Material Cultures: The Stuff of Research’