This post is taking as a starting point a great chapter in the even greater Prairyerth book, from which this blog takes so much inspiration. The chapter is about names and as this is about Tamworth, well it´s about the name Tamworth. the chapter quotes ‘Sockless’ Simpson(what a name)
I wouldn´t give a tinker´s durn for a man who can´t spell a word more than one way
Going along with the quote, below are 22 different ways of spelling Tamworth throughout history ordered chronologically( A lot of info is from this CBA report).
|Tomtun(Late 7th century, Ethelred)
|Tamouurdie(Offa, 781 AD)
|Tamouuorthige(Offa, 781 AD)
|Tomepeording (Beorhwulf, 849)
|Tamuuorde(Domesday book)||Tamworde(Domesday book)|
|Tameworth(13th century)||Tamworth(Shakespeare, Richard III,16th century)|
In a way you could read Tamworth´s history through its changing names. It´s as if in the 7th and 8th glory centuries it was changing names frantically as if trying on different crowns or trying to fit a name to fit its status as Mercia´s capital. This gave way though to resignation in the 9th,10th centuries when it settled for the more unprepossessing tamwurde,tamwurthes…… It was a one way route and there was no turning back. In the middle ages it settled and resigned itself to Tamworth, a relatively unchanging backwater, consecrated even by Shakespeare and so remains until today.
It’s interesting to think about whats in a name, its touched upon again in the aforementioned Prairyerth chapter. Does the name influence the place? Does the place fill out and become the name? Does it effect are perception of the place? It´s an interesting thought…
Lichfield and Tamworth
The name Tamworth has a functional origin as in so many Anglo saxon names, Enclosure by the river Tame, Lichfield´s name has more obscure origins and may translate as the slightly more metaphysical field of the dead or even have Roman pedigree. That’s the names sorted out but what about the sounds of the words that’s where the real influence lies. The word Tamworth is a broad horizontal, expansive word when pronounced, the same as the town itself! The town is largely flat, horizontal and spreads out over considerable distance, its linguistic destiny being fulfilled by expansion in the 60´s. Now look at the word Lichfield, it’s a more vertical word, it’s not as broad sounding and dare I say it a more posh sound. The town itself also fills out this linguistic destiny, it´s compact and clings to its souring vertical cathedral.
My point illustrated below:
Lichfield profile, side by side with the pronunciation of Lichfield
Tamworth profile with the pronunciation of Tamworth
Abe and Ernst checking out Tamworth´s many names in the library
Ernst is more Lichfield? (vertical,etc)
Abe is more Tamworth?(Horizontal,etc)