Old English Newsletter


Back  |  Print


Anglo-Saxon Plant-Name Survey (ASPNS): Third Annual Report


Dr. C.P. Biggam, Director of ASPNS, Univ. of Glasgow

The highlight of 2001 for ASPNS was that I was able to spend three months on collecting the Latin plant-names of Anglo-Saxon England, thanks to a Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and the nearby facilities of Cambridge University Library. The Old English plant-names have already been listed (with thanks to the Thesaurus of Old English), and the Latin names are the next big data-collecting challenge. The task has not been completed, but much of the checking and reading has been accomplished. It is planned to produce a database of Latin names and their Old English and Latin interpretations, where such exist. This will enable a researcher to enter an Old English plant-name and retrieve the Latin names which are associated with it, or vice versa. No judgements will be made of this material, so that patently obvious errors of translation will be included if that is what appears in the manuscript evidence. The database is intended as a preliminary research tool for plant-name investigators, and it will be available free of charge on the ASPNS web-site, which is hosted by the Department of English Language, University of Glasgow. It is hoped to provide an initial version by the summer of 2002, and, thenceforth, data will be added as time permits.

Work is progressing well on the proceedings of the first ASPNS symposium. Hopes that it might see the light in 2001 were a little too optimistic, but thirteen of the fourteen papers have now been edited and indexed, and it should be ready for the publisher in the spring. The book will be illustrated, and will contain papers from many disciplines which are relevant to plant-studies.

I presented and discussed the work of ASPNS in a lecture entitled "Researching Anglo-Saxon Plant-Names" at Clare Hall, Cambridge on 16 October 2001. The international audience showed great interest in the project, and question time, fuelled by wine, lasted for some time.

Sadly, 2001 saw the death of Professor David Burnley of the University of Sheffield, the ASPNS adviser on Middle English language and texts. He gave great encouragement to ASPNS, and was never stinting with valuable help.

The annual reports of ASPNS are now being published in the Old English Newsletter, and are also, of course, all available on the ASPNS web-site at http://www2.arts.gla.ac.uk/SESLL/EngLang/ihsl/projects/plants.htm.

Thanks are due to those who have helped and enquired about ASPNS in the past year, and, especially, to the Department of English Language, and Institute for the Historical Study of Language, both at the University of Glasgow.

January 2002



Biggam, C. P., "Anglo-Saxon Plant-Name Survey (ASPNS): First Annual Report," Old English Newsletter 33.3 (Spring, 2000), 9-11.

Biggam, C.P., ed., From Earth to Art: the Many Aspects of the Plant-World in Anglo-Saxon England: Proceedings of the First ASPNS Symposium, University of Glasgow, 5-7 April 2000 (forthcoming).

Hough, Carole, "The Field-Name Felterrode," Journal of the English Place-Name Society 32 (1999-2000), 47-49 [concerning feltere "centaury"].

Rusche, Philip G., "The Laud Herbal Glossary and English-Celtic Contacts: A Reappraisal," Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 42 (Winter 2001), 73-82.

Sauer, Hans, "The Old English Suffix -el/ -il/ -ul/ -l (> ModE -le, cf. 'beetle, girdle, thistle') as Attested in the épinal-Erfurt Glossary," Innovation and Continuity in English Studies: A Critical Jubilee, ed. Herbert Grabes, Bamberger Beiträge zur englischen Sprachwissenschaft = University of Bamberg Studies in English Linguistics 44 (Peter Lang, 2001), 289-313.