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Maiden Newton in the Frome Valley

aerial view of maiden newton

Like most place names, the name of the village has been spelt in a variety of ways through the centuries.

In Domesday Book (1086) it is Neweton, in the Hundred Roll (1275) it is Niweton, in the Feudal Aids Records (1303) it is Mayden Nyweton and then in Calendars, Charters and Rolls of various sorts it has many different spellings: Maydene Nyweton, Maydene Neweton, Mayndenenyweton (1311 to 1346). In 1405 we get Nyton Lyles, and in 1412 Neweton Lisles. This is an instance of a family name being attached, referring to the manor or part of the manor owned by this family. Newton obviously means new town, and probably refers to the new town which came into existence south of the old town at Quarr. Someone has suggested ‘they maden neweton’. The old town could have been one of the hamlets in the Parish – Cruxton, Notton or Throop, but this is not likely. It is possible that the old town with its Saxon church was destroyed by the Danes but we have no historical proof of this. The Danes invaded Dorset in 1002 and the next year they pulled down the walls of Dorchester, and Cerne Abbas was destroyed. Canute first landed in England on the Dorset coast at Frome Mouth in the Port of Wareham in 1015.

The etymology of mai-dun is obscure. Dune and dun is Anglo Saxon for ‘hill’ and tun is town. Maiden possibly means belonging to a nunnery. There is a Nunnery mead at Throop. We may compare Maiden (without a) Castle, maiden assizes (without a criminal case) maiden voyage, maiden speech. The Anglo-Saxon is ‘maeden’, and a may or maid means, of course, new, fresh, pure, un-used, first. So it looks as if Maiden Newton means just what it says (repeated in fact) the new town. But all this is largely guess work.

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