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Top 10 Crazy-But-True British Place Names

VO: Ashley Bowman
Written by Sean Harris Road trips rarely sound weirder than this. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 obscure and unusual British place names. For this list, we’re scaling the UK, stopping off at the strangest sounding towns, villages and hamlets. We’re looking for larger settlements only, so no silly-sounding streets or individual locations, like Great Cockup (a fantastically named fell in the Lake District) or Sandy Balls (a scratchy sounding woodland in Hampshire). And it’s one entry per county, only. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Crazy-But-True British Place Names


Road trips rarely sound weirder than this. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 obscure and unusual British place names.

For this list, we’re scaling the UK, stopping off at the strangest sounding towns, villages and hamlets. We’re looking for larger settlements only, so no silly-sounding streets or individual locations, like Great Cockup (a fantastically named fell in the Lake District) or Sandy Balls (a scratchy sounding woodland in Hampshire). And it’s one entry per county, only.

#10: Pity Me
County Durham

Nestled mere miles from No Place, another unusual village name that almost featured today, there’re various theories on how and why Pity Me’s moniker seems so defeatist. Perhaps most prominently, a local legend claims that the coffin of St Cuthbert was dropped nearby, prompting the saint to seek sympathy. Bizarrely, the name isn’t even that unusual – with other Pity Mes popping up in Northumberland and Cornwall.

#9: Bishop’s Itchington
Warwickshire

As a general rule, the British countryside is choc-a-bloc with church-inspired place names - and the bishops are usually to blame. There’s Bishop Ooze and Bishop Spit on Kent’s River Medway, and Cropwell Bishop in Nottinghamshire (just south of Cropwell Butler). But Warwickshire’s Bishop’s Itchnington gets our divine intervention. Hinting at holy head lice, it’s actually a picturesque parish close to Shakespeare’s own Stratford-upon-Avon.

#8: Queen Camel
Somerset

We can confidently trace one half of this royal weirdness, as the ‘queen’ in question is probably Henry III’s wife Queen Eleanor, who owned land in the region during the thirteenth century. The ‘Camel’ is a pinch more puzzling, but it most likely derives from Medieval languages – and is definitely nothing to do with the desert animal. Either way, Queen Camel is also tentatively touted as a possible location for the Battle of Camlann – King Arthur’s legendary last stand.

#7: Beer
Devon

The British do have a reputation for packing out the pubs, so you might expect this Jurassic Coast village to be a must-see place of pilgrimage for purveyors of the pint. But Beer doesn’t share many links with actual hops and barley ale, and its name harks back to an Old English term for ‘grove’. The town does have a slice of vice in its history though, as Beer was originally built as a secret smuggler’s cove for shipping contraband goods.

#6: Twatt
Orkney Islands

Hop across the Pentland Firth from Scotland for one of the most outwardly odd place names in the UK. Twatt is a very small settlement on the largest of the Orkney Islands, famed for its comic closeness to the essential insult. Between Twatt Airfield and Twatt Church, there’s plenty to see and do – but, the name isn’t actually rude. It comes from an old Norse term for ‘land’, and there’s another Twatt on the Shetland Islands, too.

#5: Upper Slaughter
Gloucestershire

With rolling hills and relaxed rural landscapes, the Cotswolds offer quintessential countryside. But Upper Slaughter doesn’t immediately exude peace and tranquillity. Paired with Lower Slaughter, it’s probably the UK’s most violent sounding village name. However, Upper Slaughter is actually especially noted for an exceptional lack of bloodshed. Dubbed a ‘Doubly Thankful Village’, it’s one of only 14 villages in England and Wales not to have lost soldiers during the First and Second World Wars.

#4: Barton in the Beans
Leicestershire

Inspiring mental images filled with tins of tomato-covered haricots, this tiny Midlands Hamlet could quite easily double up as an off-the-wall setting for a bestselling children’s book. But truth really is stranger than fiction, and Barton in the Beans is a real place. And the agreeable alliteration isn’t even the strangest bit, because this sleepy spot is also a rare breed of British village that doesn’t boast a shop or a pub – despite the obvious potential for a bean-themed menu.

#3: Bitchfield
Lincolnshire

Re-joining the road to rudeness, to another tiny village with another majestic moniker. But besides its funny name, Bitchfield’s a mighty modest place, consisting of just a single street and a smattering of houses. Still, if you’re ever in the local area, you could also stop by Norton Disney, Dry Doddington or Burton Coggles… West Lincolnshire is obviously a leading location for outlandish and unexpected destinations.

#2: Shitterton
Dorset

Taking the toilet humour to new heights, we nearly included Shitlington Crag in Northumberland, Brokenwind in Aberdeenshire, and Stranagalwilly in County Tyrone… But Shitterton steals it, if only because everyone else is apparently stealing the village signage. In 2010, residents of the Dorset hamlet were forced to club together to buy an immovable, 1.5-ton Shitterton sign made of stone, because the standard fixture was repeatedly nicked. If anywhere deserves the number two spot, it’s this place.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

New Invention
Shropshire

Great Snoring
Norfolk

Lost
Aberdeenshire

#1: Boggy Bottom
Hertfordshire

Taking top spot, a barrage of Bottoms. Encouraging us all to embrace our immaturity, the likes of Pratt’s Bottom in Bromley, Happy Bottom in Dorset, Bottoms Fold in Lancashire and Loose Bottom in East Sussex all denote the derriere. But, they’re all beaten by Boggy Bottom, which is Hertfordshire’s answer to the address we all wish we had. Signing off with a squelch, it’s the best bum deal of all the bottom-based place names that Britain has to offer.
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