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How did the Cotswolds get their name?

There are a couple of theories behind the name of these majestic lands, both of which are, in our opinion, pretty great!

Whilst it’s widely known that the word ‘wold’ is from the old English ‘wald’, meaning forest or high ground – apt in that the Cotswolds are famous for gently rolling hills and ancient woodland.

However, the word Cot could be from the name of an Anglo-Saxon chieftain named Cod in the 12th century who owned the high lands, hence Cod’s Wald, eventually becoming Cotswolds. This theory leads to the Cotswolds occasionally being referred to as King Cod’s Land…

The other theory could be that Cot means sheep pen, and the Cotswolds were popular grazing land for farmers and their animals.

Either way, we love the history of old English words and how they became part of our modern language. Here’s some more interesting Cotswold town names and their origins.

Combe (pronounced coom)

This word appears in many town names, such as Castle Combe and Winchcombe, and most obviously, Combe near Blenheim Palace. A natural companion to wolds, a combe is a short valley.

Upper and Lower Slaughter

Gruesome though it might sound, slaughter actually comes from, you guessed it, an old English word… Slohtre refers to a muddy place, which would have been accurate since there is a ford that runs through Upper Slaughter.

Rosehill Travel recommends two of our favourite premier hotels in these villages, Lords of the Manor and The Slaughters Manor House.


Making up the name of Chipping Sodbury, Chipping Campden (rumoured to be the home of Kate Bush) and Chipping Norton, this word means ‘cheapen’. Once again it doesn’t mean what it sounds like, but actually means ‘market’. It stands to reason then, that these villages still host traditional markets to this day and make for a lovely visit on your stay in the Cotswolds.


Stow on the Wold is our Stow, but there are other instances across Britain, sometimes spelled Stowe. This word is Anglo Saxon and means religious meeting place. The oldest church in Stow on the Wold is The Church of St Edward which partly dates from the 11th century and is well worth a visit. The original Saxon church was built on the same site, but from wood… We hope you’ve enjoyed our short history lesson into the weird and wonderful names of the Cotswolds and its towns. When you’re ready to come and visit in person, do remember to get in touch with Rosehill Travel.