Margaret Gelling

Margaret Gelling
Margaret Joy Gelling

Margaret Gelling in 1965
Born Margaret Joy Midgley
29 November 1924(1924-11-29)
Died 24 April 2009(2009-04-24) (aged 84)
Nationality British
Education Chislehurst Grammar School
Alma mater St Hilda's College, Oxford
Occupation toponymist
Spouse Peter Stanley Gelling

Margaret Joy Gelling, OBE (née Midgley,[1] 29 November 1924 – 24 April 2009) was an English toponymist, Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, and member of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the British Academy.

Gelling was President of the English Place-Name Society.[1] She was the author, co-author or editor of numerous books, several which have become standard works in the field of toponymy and which include the English Place-Name Society surveys of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Shropshire, and a lecturer on place names at the universities of Birmingham (Edgbaston), annually at Oxford, and periodically at various international meetings.

She was a sometime member of an expedition to Peru devoted to investigating the history of potato use including freeze-drying at altitude. Consequently, she became experienced at cooking over a fire of dried llama dung in a cave.[2]

Her published works include Signposts to the Past (1978) and, with Ann Cole, The Landscape of Place-names (2000), based on her earlier work, Place-names in the Landscape (1984). The Landscape of Place-Names is a reference to settlement names of the type which define a settlement by reference to a landscape feature, as found in Britain south of the ForthClyde line.

Gelling established the relationship between Anglo-Saxon names and the landscape; for example the Anglo-Saxons had about forty words that can describe hills, but these are mostly regarded as synonyms in modern English. In those times, the distinction between a knoll and a creech could be a very important navigational direction.[1]



Gelling was married to the University of Birmingham archaeologist, Peter Stanley Gelling (1925–84).[2] They had no children, but raised her nephew Adrian Midgley from the age of six.[2]


  • Gelling, Margaret (1953). Place-Names of Oxfordshire, Part I. XXIII. Cambridge: English Place-Name Society. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1954). Place-Names of Oxfordshire, Part II. XXIV. Cambridge: English Place-Name Society. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1967). "English place-names derived from the compound Wicham". Medieval Archaeology (The Society for Medieval Archaeology) XI: 103. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1973). Place-Names of Berkshire, Part I. XLIX. Cambridge: English Place-Name Society. ISBN 0904889602. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1973). Place-Names of Berkshire, Part II. LI. Cambridge: English Place-Name Society. ISBN 0521200342. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1978). Signposts to the Past. Place-Names and the History of England. London: J.M. Dent & Son. ISBN 0460042645. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1979). The Early Charters of the Thames Valley. Leicester: Leicester University Press. ISBN 0718511328. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1984). Place-Names in the Landscape: The Geographical Roots of Britain's Place-names. London: J.M. Dent & Son. ISBN 0460043803. 
  • Gelling, Margaret; Foxall, H.D.G. (1990). Place-Names of Shropshire, Part I. LXII-LXIII. English Place-Name Society. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1992). The West Midlands in the Early Middle Ages. Studies in the Early History of Britain. Leicester: Leicester University Press. ISBN 0718513959. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (1995). Place-Names of Shropshire, Part II: the Hundreds of Ford and Condover. LXX. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. ISBN 0904889432. 
  • Gelling, Margaret. Place-Names of Shropshire, Part III: The Place-Names of Shropshire, Part III: Telford New Town, The Northern part of Munslow Hundred and the Franchise of Wenlock. English Place-Name Society. 
  • Gelling, Margaret; Cole, Ann (2000). The Landscape of Place-Names. Shaun Tyas. ISBN 1900289261. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (2006). Place-Names of Shropshire, Part IV: Shrewsbury Town and Suburbs and the Liberties of Shrewsbury. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. ISBN 090488967X. 
  • Gelling, Margaret (2006). Place-Names of Shropshire, Part V: The Place-Names of Shropshire, Part IV: the Hundreds of Pimhill and Bradford North. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. 
  • Nicolaisen, W.F.H.; Gelling, Margaret; Richards, Melville. The Names of Towns and Cities in Britain. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd. 


External links

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