Origination of the name ‘Strelley’

by Frank E Earp

There is still a an unresolved mystery concerning the origination of the  name ‘Strelley’. The first spelling, ‘Straleia’, is of Anglo Saxon origin and like so many other place names is descriptive of the original settlement site.

The two syllables of the name ‘Stra’ and ‘Leia’ are derived from two separate names. ‘Ley-‘Leia’, is a common suffix to English place names, and is usually interpreted as meaning a ‘forest or woodland clearing’, from the Old English ‘Leah’. The prefix ‘Stra’ is less common and is derived from a Latin root word ‘streat’, which has giving English words like ‘Strata’ and more importantly ‘Street’. Where it appears as a place name, it is interpreted as referring to the presence of a paved road, more specifically a Roman road.

The name therefore translates as ‘the clearing on or near a Roman road’. However there appears to be no Roman roads hereabouts, and as we will see, sometimes, the prefix ‘Stra’ seems to indicate an ‘unmade road’, an ancient trackway rather than the conventional Roman road. It is possible that it was left by the ‘native Britons’ and used at a later date by the Romans, but some, no means all of these ancient highways became  ‘paved’ Roman roads.

The origin  and the meaning of the name Strelley (the clearing by or on the road), is confirmed by the names of a number of villages. Although their modern names may now differ slightly from each other, the earliest spelling (Domesday Book, 1086), can be compared directly with that of Strelley- ‘Straleia’.

The examples are; Streetley in Warwickshire, which on the Roman road Ryknild Street. Streeat- Streat in Dorset, on a minor (unnamed) Roman road. Streatley- Straillei in Bedfordshire, and Streatly- Estraslei in Berkshire, which are both close to historic trackways, the Ikneild Way and the Ridgeway.

The Doomsday names of the last two villages, which are both of prehistoric tracks and not conventional roads,  are linguistically, identical to that of  the Nottinghamshire Strelley.

It would seem that the correct translation of the name Strelley is ‘the clearing on or near a road or track associated with the Romans.


About nottinghamhiddenhistoryteam

Originally formed in 1965 to try to save or at least record before destruction the cave sites continually discovered during the major redevelopment of the City that took place in Nottingham in the 1960′s. Almost every day new sites were unearthed and destroyed before anyone was notified; last thing they wanted was someone telling them to stop what they were doing; TIME is MONEY. The word HIDDEN in the Team’s title is because a lot of what was being invisibly lost in the redevelopment was our early history in the caves, they are under most, if now all, of Nottingham. In the 80’s and 90’s the Team conducted with the help of Dr Robert Morrell and Syd Henley, research and work on Nottingham’s history, folklore and local archaeology. The Team published quarterly magazines on their findings. The Team lapsed for a few years after the death of Paul Nix who was the team leader for thirty plus years. The Team has reformed and is now back working on Nottingham local history. On this blog you will find a series of history, folklore and archaeological related articles and information. Most of the material published will be specifically related to Nottingham/shire local history.
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2 Responses to Origination of the name ‘Strelley’

  1. lawalker01 says:

    Strelley is home to a very unusual historical pathway – the monks path. Although not roman, there is a possibility that this road follows an earlier route. It seems more than a coincidence to me; the placename hypothesis relating to street is for the very same village with a well known ancient track running straight through it!

  2. garmard says:

    It is interesting to note that nearby Broxtowe had a Roman garrison, with Cinderhill a Roman smelting industry. My gut feeling tells me that a Roman road did actually run through the village, and is yet to be discovered.

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