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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Odd place names find new meaning
Tedburn St Mary, Devon
Devon is home to many unusual place names

Crinkly Bottom provoked many a laugh when TV presenter Noel Edmonds first introduced the fictional place name on his former House Party show.

But for a lot of people the mere mention of the strange yet genuine place where they live draws belly laughs they could do without.

Now author Adrian Room has compiled a dictionary of all these strange but true place names to explain their meaning.

So even if you do have to suffer the humiliation of admitting you live in Pratt's Bottom, now you can also shed a bit of light on its origins.


Some people have the fortune to live in Chelsea or Knightsbridge - others face the more embarrassing prospect of claiming Brown Willy or Penistone as home.

It could also be difficult owning up to living in Wyre Piddle or Queen Camel without someone suppressing a giggle.

Yorkshire's finest:

But all these places exist in either England, Scotland and Wales and will be appearing in the Penguin Dictionary of British Place Names - published on Friday.

In his book, Mr Room informs us that Barton in the Beans, in Leicestershire, apparently translates into "barley farm where beans are grown".

Harry Potter fans could be stopped in their tracks when they stumble across the Dorset coastal arch of Durdle Door, thinking they have run into Hogwarts School's famous headmaster.

Moss Side = Mossy Land

Devon is awash with interesting settlements including the alluring Beer, Westward Ho! and for moneymakers, Pennycomequick - which means exactly that.

The dictionary has more than 1,000 entries and tells how John O' Groats was named after Jan de Groot, a 15th century Dutch bailiff to the earls of Caithee.

Manchester's well-known Moss Side was named thus because it was "the edge of the mossy land".

Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire
Yorkshire: Proud of its roots

Miserable people may seek solace in Old Sodbury in Gloucestershire, but really the name translates as "fortified place".

Dwellers in Sussex will be rather put out to read that Pease Pottage emerges as the "place by muddy ground the consistency of pea soup".

Mr Room is well-qualified to write his book - he is a member of the English Place Name Society, Scottish Place Name Society and the American Place Name Society.

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