Castles in the ‘airth’…

Stuart France

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‘In the early epic ‘Beowulf’ occur the similar words ‘beorh’ and ‘burh’.

The first used only for a tumulus or barrow, which was a burial place. The second for a  fortified or protected dwelling or enclosure.

Philologists have adopted these ‘meanings’ and have extended ‘burh’ to include, hill-top camps and also, later, enclosed settlements or towns which now carry the suffix -bury.

On this evidence, then, they derive -bury in a place name from ‘burh’ but not from ‘beorh’.

The ley student, on the other hand, finds that the earthwork enclosures called ‘burh’ (camps or castles) in most cases originated from a nucleus of an older tumulus or ‘beorh’. He notes, also, that farmers wishing to protect their roots call the earth-mound used for this purpose a ‘bury’ although the same heap of roots protected in a barn is not so designated.

Our modern verb ‘to bury’ has…

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About Stuart France

Writer and Director of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School.
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