Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - Anglo-Saxon -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna and Lillia de Vaux

- Anglo-Saxon -

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August 2010 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

There are an enormous (and growing) number of resources online that can be useful to heralds and to submitters. Each month, I'm going to post information about some that I think might be useful. If I miss some interesting ones, let me know, because I don't know everything.

This month's topic is documenting Anglo-Saxon names. The traditional main source for Anglo-Saxon names was Searle's Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum. However, in August 2008, Searle was ruled unreliable, making three main criticisms:

First, all of the headwords that Searle uses have been standardized to a normalized Old English form... Second, and connected to the first issue, Searle included many non-Old English names, including Continental Germanic and Old Norse names that were found in the English documents that he was using as sources, even when the bearer is known not to have been English... Third, Searle gives many variant spellings of the individual themes, and these variant spellings should be used with care. Some of the variants that he lists are very rare, perhaps even scribal errors... Given these issues, Searle in general should not be relied upon as the sole source of documentation for an Old English name.

So, given this ruling, what should you use? First, note that while the spellings of the names in Searle aren't necessarily appropriate, the people really did exist. So sending a name up to Laurel with documentation from Searle is not cause for return; it just means we have to search to determine if the spelling is appropriate. Here's how I do it.

I start with PASE, the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (http://www.pase.ac.uk/index.html). It's recently been revamped, which has added all the data I'd been missing (like names from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). But it's just a little harder to use. Click on "Database" and then click on the little plus sign on the "Persons" bar at the left. That will give you a list of options; click on the plus next to "Name." This will bring up a list of the names starting with A. You can select another letter or search for a name. The standardized names are registerable, as are documentary forms. To find documentary forms, as well as determine the dates associated with the individuals, click on the name of the individual. In the central window, all individuals with that name are listed. Click on one to open a window to the right with more data about that individual. The documentary forms are listed under "Recorded Name." To look at another individual with the same name, just click on their name. To bring up another name, close the center window by clicking on the X or on "Reset Constraints."

Tengvik's Old English Bynames has significant numbers of given names and bynames. Ekwall's The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names has some Anglo-Saxon placenames as well as later placenames. A few additional articles are found at the Academy of Saint Gabriel library (the relevant page is http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/engoldenglish.shtml).

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