The hamlet of Shitterton in Dorset has a name which stretches back at least 1,000 years, but its title proved too tempting for thieves who made off with its sign. The place name has been explained as “farmstead on the stream used as an open sewer” and over the years has been rendered as Schitereston, Shyterton, Chiterton and Shetterton, according to author Anthony David Mills.
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The hamlet lies at the western end of Bere Regis, just off the A35 between Poole and Dorchester, with a stream that flows into the nearby River Piddle.
Shitterton most probably comes from the Old English word “scitere”, which means sewer or a stream used as an open sewer, and ton which is used to denote a village, farmstead or estate.
The hamlet’s name can literally be translated therefore as the place by the sewer.
In 2010, residents grew so frustrated at their village sign being stolen and not being replaced that they had a stone version put up.
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Villager Ian Ventham told the BBC at the time: “Every two or three years somebody comes along and nicks our sign because, clearly, Shitterton is amusing.”
He argued Purbeck District Council would only have replaced it with yet another sign, adding: “That would have been stolen so we have got together as residents for a whip-round and bought this wonderful piece of Purbeck stone which, at a tonne-and-a-half, is going to be slightly more difficult to take away.”
Shitterton is believed to be the only place in Britain named after what it describes, but it is not the only place name which can raise a laugh.
Cocks in Cornwall, Scratch Arse Ware in Dorset, Fingeringhoe in Essex, and Wetwang in the East Riding of Yorkshire are also celebrated for their unique and unusual names.
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