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Pin!!In Issue One David Staveley asked whether there were any wells associated with the Scandinavian goddess Freya. Several readers responded to this request and helped us to identify the sites mentioned in Gelling (1961) and Hutton (1991).  So in answer to...

Are there any 'holy wells' associated with the Scandinavian Goddess Freya?

Jennifer Scherr of the English Place-Name Society replies with some more background, suggestions and examples...

   Walters (1928), pp.91-2 lists Friday Street Well in Painswick, Gloucestershire. He also mentions a Friday Well at Roston, Derbyshire (Walters 1928, p.92-3) and makes an implied link with St Frideswide.

   I did wonder what Friggle Street, Frome, Somerset might be, but it was recorded as Frilingestret 1230. Others may have more information about this, but it seems at any rate not to be a -well name.

   Margaret Gelling (1977, pp.99-114) wrote more on pagan names. Here she lists Fretherne, Gloucs; Fryup, Yorks; Freefolk, Froyle and Frobury. Hants; but their derivations are not certain and she omits them in her section on pagan place-names in Signposts to the past.

   Margaret Gelling now thinks that it may indeed be worth reinvestigating for formerly unproven Frig names. A 10th century form for Friden (Db), in a charter discovered in 1983, has the spelling Frigedene, ‘and "Frig's valley" is almost certainly the meaning’ (I quote MG in a letter to me). She has also acknowledged Fryup as "Frig's remote valley (OE hop)" in her new book (Gelling 2000).

   Does anybody know of any more?


   Gelling, Margaret (1961).   Place-names and Anglo-Saxon paganism. University of Birmingham Historical Journal, 8, pp.7-25.

     Gelling, Margaret (1977). Further thoughts on pagan place-names. IN Cameron, K. ed (1977). Place-name evidence for the Anglo-Saxon invasion and Scandinavian settlements. Nottingham: EPNS, pp. 99-114.

   Gelling, Margaret (1978). Signposts to the past. London: Dent.

   Gelling, M. and Cole, A. (2000). The landscape of place-names. Stamford: Shaun Tyas.

   Hutton, Ronald (1991). The pagan religions of the ancient British Isles. Oxford: Blackwell.

   Walters, Skyring (1928). The ancient wells, springs, and holy wells of Gloucester: their legends, historyand topography. Bristol: St Stephen's Press.


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