Indeed: does it matter? Having grown up in the East Midlands, although admittedly across the border, in a settlement where - after his final & fateful battle - the body of the last pagan King of Northumbria was kept before his funerary return to his capital in the North; roaming local woodlands with names and earthworks hinting at a hidden past; building dams in the local river which gave its name to the nearest town. I was always interested in piecing these puzzles together, and retelling those stories to whosoever was willing to listen..
“If you knew your history: you would know where you’re coming from”, as the song goes.
Place names are a piece of that story, an indicator of what the landscape once was. They are a shadow cast from a past when the British Isles were not only home to now extinct fauna, but also things unseen in a world interpreted by people who had little comprehension of even where the sun went at night. For these people, woodlands may be the homes of spirits both fair & foul, the weather was the will of the gods, and mountains were the homes of trolls and other creatures lurking in the mist.