Explore Britain’s Funny Place Names

 Amusing place names abound, even at Britain’s furthest extremities  (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Amusing place names abound, even at Britain’s furthest extremities (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

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Britain’s funny, rude and delightfully odd place names, including our Top 50 selection on this page, are the subject of the Marvellous Map of Great British Place Names. Available in 3 formats (fold-out, flat or framed) from £14.99.

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Britain's Top 50 Funny Place Names

Scroll onwards and downwards for our highly subjective list of favourite funny place names from around Britain. They need little introduction, except to say they are all real places - villages, hamlets, hills, streets, roads and other features that can all be found on the maps of the Ordnance Survey, that is to say the foremost authority on such matters in the land. The Top 50 are arranged in a big loop, starting down south and heading north (ish) / anticlockwise, just in case the thought of a (frankly epic) road trip might tempt you.

Spankers Hill Wood

This hill in Richmond Park that peaks at 44m above sea level is certainly not notable for its height. Its name, however, certainly is. The derivation of this former game preserve is not known, but the first recorded reference of Spanker Hill was in 1843. Londoners have been escaping in their droves to this famous royal park for many years, and now perhaps we know why.

Shepherd's Bush

Shepherd's Bush, within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, with its mildly amusing double-entendre, probably originates from shepherds' use of common land to rest their flock en route to Smithfield Market in the City of London. There is a reference to the area as Sheppard's Bush Green as far back as 1635. SheBu, or The Bush, is apparently unrelated to Shepherd's Bottom (Dorset).

 SheBu, London  (Shutterstock / Willy Barton)

SheBu, London (Shutterstock / Willy Barton)

 Intriguing  (Shutterstock / Willy Barton)

Intriguing (Shutterstock / Willy Barton)

Royal Arsenal

The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, was a location of armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research for the British armed forces from the late 17th century until 1967. The football club that would eventually become Arsenal FC and move to north London also has its origins here. The Royal Arsenal is now a residential area but, thankfully for connoisseurs of cheeky place names, it still retains its connections to the past through its name.

Cockfosters

A north London suburb spanning the boroughs of Enfield and Barnet, and a tube station on the Picadilly line, Cockfosters was recorded as early as 1524. The name is thought to be derived either from the name of a family or the name of a house, potentially 'the residence of the cock forester (or chief forester)'. Either way, it lowers the tone of the otherwise squeaky-clean classic tube map of London.

 Cockfosters: lowering the tone of London since the middle ages  (Shutterstock / sevenMaps7)

Cockfosters: lowering the tone of London since the middle ages (Shutterstock / sevenMaps7)

Witts End

A part of the village of Eversholt, Befordshire, Witts End is also a leading light among those rare British place names that also moonlight as sayings. See also Cavalier Approach, Memory Lane, Quality Street and Letsby Avenue.

Nasty

This handsome Hertfordshire village would be a contender for the title of Britain's least apt place name, if there were such a thing. The name derives, like many, from something pleasingly mundane, along the lines of 'at the eastern hedged enclosure'. Equally pleasingly, it is also a member of the alternative seven dwarves - British villages doubling as Snow White's B team. See also Idle, Lusty, Dull, Seething, Loose and Ugley.

 Nasty, Herts  (Ordnance Survey)

Nasty, Herts (Ordnance Survey)

Ugley

A lovely Essex village completely at odds with its name, Ugley's lively social goings-on include a branch of the Women's Institute, a farmer's market and much more besides. The name, recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ugghelea, means 'woodland clearing belonging to someone called Ugga'.

Seething

Another contender for least apt place name in Britain (see also Nasty), Seething is a lovely Norfolk village with a notable and friendly community spirit, apparently. Also one of the alternative seven dwarves. See also Loose, Idle, Ugley, et al. Hi ho, hi ho!

Great Snoring

One of a pair of delightfully sleepy-sounding villages near the north Norfolk coast, the other being Little Snoring. The name was recorded in the Domesday Book as Snarringes, the home of the family and descendents of someone called Snear. In 1611, upon selling Great Snoring to Lord Chief Justice Richardson, Sir Ralph Shelton, lord of the manor, is reported to have said "I can sleep without Snoring". The wit.

Belchford

Along with Burpham (West Sussex), the village of Belchford in Lincolnshire is one of two places in Britain seemingly related to the ancient art of eructation. Situated in the lovely Lincolnshire Wolds AONB, and with a good local pub, Belchford is well positioned for adventures of both the outdoors and gastronomic varieties. Each September, the Belchford Downhill Challenge wows onlookers as DIY-constructed soapcarts race down a steep hill... no guts, no glory!

Tickle Cock Bridge

Another Great British place name that has provided headline fodder, Tickle Cock Bridge in Castleford, West Yorkshire, was the subject of a controversial local authority decision in 2008. When the dilapidated pedestrian underpass was replaced, it was renamed to Tickle Cott, but a local over-50s group was having none of it. Thanks to their efforts, the council backtracked and the former location of naughty nighttime activity retained its distinctively descriptive moniker.

Shitlington Common

Set in the beautiful Northumberland national park, what could evoke a more pleasingly natural assault on the senses than the sights, sounds and smells of Shitlington? Close to Shitlington Common is Shitlington Crags, nearby there's Shittleheugh, a bit further south in County Durham is Shittlehope... and just down the road is Brownsleazes.

Hen Poo

An attractive, if not attractive-sounding, man-made loch in the grounds of Duns Castle, in the Scottish Borders. Nothing to do with poop in the coop, Hen Poo is managed as a wildlife reserve and is part of a circular walk that's open to all. Find out more here.

Bottom Burn

To some, it's a little stream in a little valley with little to write home about. But to others, it's a marvel of a place name, the sort of locale in which one could find oneself the morning after the night before, especially if spice was on the menu. See also Bog Burn, Burnt Bottom, Scratchy Bottom and Galloping Bottom.

Dull

Deriving from a suitably prosaic meaning (either 'meadow' or 'snare'), this village in Perthshire became twinned with Boring, Oregon (USA) in 2012. Together, the powers that be of Dull and Boring created the League of Extraordinary Communities in 2013, the first new member of which was Bland, New South Wales (Australia).

Dull---Perthshire-Scotland-small.jpg
 Definitely trust this sign for navigation  (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Definitely trust this sign for navigation (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Cock Bridge

Cock Bridge is not a river crossing made of unusual materials, but a hamlet in the eastern part of the Cairngorms national park. It's on what's known as the Snow Roads scenic route, a glorious 90-mile journey through the Cairngorms and includes the highest public road in Britain. Cock Bridge is not unique in Britain - there are notable namesakes south of the border in Cumbria and Lancashire.

 Cock Bridge, Cairngorms: a favourite among people who always seem to have the perfect sticker for the occasion  (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Cock Bridge, Cairngorms: a favourite among people who always seem to have the perfect sticker for the occasion (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

 Are you noticing a theme with these Scottish bridges?  (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Are you noticing a theme with these Scottish bridges? (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Bonar Bridge

This Scottish town is not hard to find. Residing on the road from Inverness to the beautiful wilds of the northwest Highlands, it takes its name from the impressively erected bridge over the Kyle of Sutherland. Today's Bonar Bridge is its third incarnation, the first being built by Thomas Telford in 1812. Prior to that, the only way of crossing the water was a ferry, but a disaster in 1809 eventually led to the bridge being built. The name derives from Gaelic for 'fair ford', and is actually pronounced 'Bonnar', but you're probably much more interested to know that a certain sat nav app pronounces it the 'correct' way. Chortle.

Twatt (Orkney)

Not signposted from every direction, Twatt can surprise you... but it's well worth the visit when you get there. Most impressive about this hamlet on the main Orkney island of Mainland (other than its name) is the church, which is called Twatt Church and is a wondrous thing. The name Twatt is derived from the Norse for 'forest clearing' or 'parcel of land', but people tend to overlook that when they're standing here, gurning into their phones.

 The finest bench in the world  (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

The finest bench in the world (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Twatt (Shetland)

Everyone should visit Shetland. Yes, yes, it is home to Britain's most northerly point and has some of the finest scenery known to humankind, but that's all by the by. Shetland's real claim to fame is of course that it boasts the northernmost of Britain's pair of Twatts... located on the main Shetland island of Mainland. Nearby are the Burn of Twatt and Twatt Hill.

Butt of Lewis

The north-western outpost of Britain's great place names, the Butt of Lewis is a great destination, the start or end of the Hebridean Way, a walking / cycling / driving route that stretches the length of the stunning Outer Hebrides. You'll find the Butt easily enough, as light shines out of it (via its lighthouse). Even better, a mile or so inland, a cafe by the name of the Buttery is the perfectly punny pitstop for fuelling up before the finish line. Just around the coast is a natural arch called the Eye of the Butt (Scottish Gaelic: Sùil an Rubha).

Isle of Ewe

As the ram said... to anyone who'd listen... The Isle of Ewe is not only an island off the glorious northwest coast of Scotland but also a profound declaration. It heads the list of 'Isle ofs' that includes Man, Dogs and Muck, and is surely one of Britain's happiest-sounding place names. An added bonus is the scenery, being part of the Wester Ross NSA, home to some of the finest views in Britain.

Isle of Muck

Isle of Muck. Do you love Muck? The old-but-good 'Isle of' gag comes into its own in the Small Isles, where Muck is the small, least notable one next to Rum, Eigg and Canna. But in terms of nomenclature, where there's Muck there's brass. The name probably derives from the Gaelic for swine, but could also come from the word for porpoise (a more relevant creature, as they frequent the surrounding waters). The island leads Britain's mucky efforts, with several other places having a bit of muck about them, the furthest south of which being Muckworthy, Devon.

Firkin Point

"What's the Firkin Point?" is a frequently asked question, and one to which - at last - there's an answer. It's a delightful viewpoint on the bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond, easily accessible from the main north-south road that hugs the western shoreline. The perfect pitstop.

The Bastard

Sir Edmund Hillary famously remarked upon climbing Everest in 1953 that he and Tenzing Norgay had "knocked the bastard off", but really there's only one hill to which such a comment could apply: this beaut on the Kintyre peninsula, Argyll. Not far from the Mull of Kintyre and with views to Arran.

 The Bastard, Kintyre  (Ordnance Survey)

The Bastard, Kintyre (Ordnance Survey)

Rotten Bottom

Of all the Bottoms of Britain, Rotten Bottom is probably the one with the most distinctive air about it. Set amongst the hills and valleys of Moffat, Rotten Bottom is also a place of archaeological distinction, for it is there in the bogs that the Rotten Bottom Bow was found, a weapon made from yew dating to 3500 - 4000 BC. Impressive, but unlikely to quell the fart gags.

Little Cockup

A Little Cockup every once in a while is to be expected, but three in quick succession? Alongside Little Cockup, there's also Great Cockup and just plain old normal Cockup, three hills at the very northern end of the Lake District... and no mistake. Good views of Bassenthwaite Lake (and Great Cockup) can be had from the top, at 395m. The name derives from the Old English for fowl, in this case most likely black grouse, but you probably don't care about that.

Giggleswick

The name of this chortlesome-sounding village in North Yorkshire derives from the slightly less chortlesome Old English for 'dwelling or dairy farm of a man called Gikel'. Be that as it may, it's a champion place name and one that cannot help but raise a smile of anyone who passes through or sees it on a map. The cherry on top is that it's supremely located on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales national park, so there's simply no reason not to visit.

Roger Moor

This hill on the eastern edge of Lancashire between Burnley and Skipton is also one of the leading lights of British place names that seem to think they're in showbusiness. This elite set also includes Hoff, Cher, Chevy Chase, Glen Close, Craig David, Titchmarsh and Benny Hill.

Buttock

A farm and adjacent plantation, known as Buttock Plantation, nestling in the lee of Pendle Hill. Famous as the site of the 17th century witch trials, Pendle Hill is worth visiting for the scenery alone, in the delightful Forest of Bowland AONB.

Nob End

Nob End is a Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest at the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Croal in Lancashire. In the mid-19th century the area was used as a tip for toxic alkali waste from the production of sodium carbonate, and in the intervening years the area has been taken over by chalk-loving vegetation and species not typically associated with the area. One of the small, illustrious elite of British place names earning a little cash on the side as insults.

 Nob End, a Site of Special Scientific Interest  (Ordnance Survey)

Nob End, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (Ordnance Survey)

Penistone

Penistone is actually pronounced 'Penniston', but why let a little detail spoil the fun? This market town on the banks of the River Don in South Yorkshire is situated on a high ridge, which possibly accounts for the 'Pen' in its name (from the old Welsh for ridge or high point). Penistone is enjoyably close to the northern fringes of the Peak District, an area with a high concentration of top-notch place names.

Wigtwizzle

Just within the Peak District national park, this enchantingly-named hamlet between Broomhead Reservoir and Broomhead Moor will ensure that almost every other place name you ever see will be a disappointment.

The Devil's Arse

"Dare you take a walk into the notorious Devil‘s Arse?" asks the official tourism site of Peak Cavern, the more genteel name by which this 'show cave' in the Peak District is also known (the name comes from the flatulent noises it emits, and was changed in 1880 to avoid offending Queen Victoria during a visit). As William Camden put it in Britannia (1586), "there is a cave or hole within the ground called, saving your reverence, The Devils Arse, that gapeth with a wide mouth and hath in it many turnings and retyring roomes... this Hole is reckoned for one of the wonders of England." Quite.

Dare you take a walk into the notorious Devil‘s Arse?
— Official tourism site of Peak Cavern

Butthole Lane

A street in Shepshed, Leicestershire, whose residents proudly (and quite rightly) stated in 2015 that they would not change its name. Unlike their counterparts on Butt Hole Road in Conisburgh, South Yorkshire, who were less keen to keep their heritage alive and had their street renamed as Archers Way in 2009. The name in both cases is thought to derive from 'butt', an old word for archery target, butt that is almost certainly lost on most people as they admire the cheekiness.

Willey

A village in Warwickshire, whose name is derived, rather disappointingly, from Old English for willow-tree wood or clearing. Watch out though, there are Willeys in both Devon and Shropshire too.

Bell End

A well-known street in Rowley Regis, West Midlands, Bell End has been the subject of some controversy. In January 2018, residents launched a petition to have the name of the street changed due to being "too rude". The petition garnered around 100 signatures, but by April nearly 5,000 people had signed a counter-petition to "Leave the Historic Name of Bell End Alone!". Thank goodness. Not to be confused with the village of Bell End in Worcestershire, or the street of Bell End in Wollaston, Northamptonshire.

 Reason #443 why the Beeb is great  (BBC)

Reason #443 why the Beeb is great (BBC)

Fan y Bîg

The 'Point of the Peak' is a subsidiary summit of Waun Rydd in the Brecon Beacons national park, and part of the classic horseshoe walk that takes in Pen y Fan. Disappointingly, Fan y Bîg was remeasured and downgraded from a mountain to a mere hill in 2018, but even though its technical status may have changed, it's clear the influence of this amusingly-named geographical feature is nothing less than mountainous. Close by is another legend of a hill, Lord Hereford's Knob.

The Bitches

A set of rocks off the Pembrokeshire coast, between the mainland and Ramsey Island, the Bitches also give their name to the tidal race that's a popular whitewater destination for experienced kayakers and the like. The scene of many a shipwreck, the islands have been known by this name since at least 1909.

Pants

There are so many Pants in Wales that they almost deserve their own map. Pant simply means 'hollow' or 'valley', an equivalent of 'Bottom' across the border. Alongside several dozen plain Pants, there are also several more fancy Pants on offer, such as Pant-Y-Felin, Pantyfallen, Pant-y-pistyll, Pant-y-Phillip, Pantycoch and Pant-y-Wacco. When it comes to Pants, Wales is top drawer. See also Undy, in Monmouthshire, and several Thongs in England.

Old Sodbury

This apparently cantankerous senior citizen of a place name is in fact a charming Cotswoldian village. Recorded in Anglo Saxon as Soppanbyrig ('Soppa's fort') and in the Domesday Book as Sopeberie, the name is thought to refer to a nearby Iron Age hillfort (half way to neighbouring Little Sodbury). Its other neighbour is the newer, larger Chipping Sodbury ('Chipping' referring to a market town).

Scilly Isles

A wonderfully British and slightly odd name for a sun-drenched, white sand, azure sea paradise. Aside from being one of Britain's best place names (pronounced 'silly', of course), the Scilly Isles, or Scillies, are also one of Britain's finest sights, and where Britain's southernmost point, Pednathise Head, resides. Enjoyably, the Scillies (the derivation of which has baffled the experts), are home to Wee, Wingletang Bay and Doctor's Hole. Ooo err.

Lickham Bottom

A curiously-named valley in Devon, close to the Somerset border and set in the beautiful Blackdown Hills AONB, Lickham is generally regarded as one of Britain's finest Bottoms. Where the name comes from is lost in the fog of history, but its splendour is not.

 Lickham Bottom, Devon  (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Lickham Bottom, Devon (Humphrey Butler / Marvellous Maps)

Shitterton

The most famous shitty place name in Britain (and probably the world), Shitterton is in fact a lovely place, part of the village of Bere Regis in Dorset. Unlike many places on this map, the derivation is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Shitterton was literally a settlement sited over an open sewer. Such is the fame of this legendary place that, after much repeated thievery, the original sign welcoming visitors to Shitterton was replaced with an enormous lump of local Purbeck stone, into which the legendary name was carved. A true classic of world place names and a must-visit destination.

 Shitterton, Dorset  (Russell Burton)

Shitterton, Dorset (Russell Burton)

Happy Bottom

A Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve on the edge of Corfe Mullen, and one of the most joyful place names in the land. It's a wonder that a (happy) nappy company or two haven't yet relocated to this leafy corner, but here's hoping.

Slap Bottom

There must be a legitimate, believable reason for the name of this tiny corner of the New Forest national park, but we're damned if we can find it. Perhaps a mischievous cartographer at the Ordnance Survey was having a laugh, as the only evidence of this little patch of land is on a detailed OS map. If so, Slap Bottom could be exactly what the enterprising wit could get if found out. Hats off, in any case.

Fulking Hill

Arguably Britain's (and possibly also the world's) greatest place name that also doubles as a quasi-expletive. Try shouting it with urgency on public transport on a rainy Tuesday commute to discover its potential. Another classic South Downs place name, and a fulking versatile one at that.

Cocking

This part of West Sussex is a hotspot for amusing place names with a euphemistic quality very much in the mould of the Carry On films (one of which had scenes filmed on the Sussex coast). The village of Cocking lends its name to nearby infrastructure such as Cocking Causeway and Cocking Tunnel, and joining in the bawdy seaside postcard fun are Lickfold, Titty Hill and Bushy Bottom. The South Downs national park is not just a pretty place... its an innuendo-admirer's utopia.

Shufflesheeps

A West Sussex hamlet with the most heart-warming name, baaa none. Ewe can't help but get a warm, woolly feeling upon hearing it, and let's face it, it's nice that for once in this part of the country there's no innuendo being rammed down your throat.

Greatbottom Flash

A cheekily-named wider section - or 'flash' - in the Basingstoke Canal. A rather lovely spot favoured by wildlife and people who enjoy messing about in boats, it is not known whether exhibitionists also frequent the area, but it's entirely plausible that they might.

 The rather showy Greatbottom Flash, Surrey  (Ordnance Survey)

The rather showy Greatbottom Flash, Surrey (Ordnance Survey)

Golden Balls

A roundabout near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Of course roundabouts can have names. It is not known whether the roundabout is a homage to David Beckham, or if his nickname is a homage to this famous roundabout. It's possible to go round in circles on that one, but one thing is for sure: if there were awards for great place names this one would win the Ballon d'Or.


Get The Map

Britain’s funny, rude and delightfully odd place names, including our Top 50 selection on this page, are the subject of the Marvellous Map of Great British Place Names. Available in 3 formats (fold-out, flat or framed) from £14.99.

14.99
Quantity:
Add To Cart
19.99
Quantity:
Add To Cart
119.99
Quantity:
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