Blackheath Road, SE10

Place Name

Directional, leading to Blackheath. First mentioned in records as Blachehedfeld in 1166. It was Blakehetfled in 1226 and Blakeheth in 1275 and comes from the Old English words blæc and hǣth, literally dark-coloured heathland, on account of the peaty soil overlying the sand; with feld in the earlier forms, meaning open land. Samual Lewis, the 19thCentury publisher, suggested the name could say something about the heath’s bleak situation (ie Bleak Heath). Many believe it was called Blackheath on account that there was a mass grave to bury the dead during the Black Death of the Middle Ages. This is incorrect, as the name, pre-dates the bubonic plague by some 200 years (the plague did not arrive in London until 1348). Today this is part of the A2 between London and Dover, in Kent, it follows a similar route to that of an old Celtic trackway which the Romans paved over. In Anglo-Saxon times it became part of a longer road known as Wæcelinga Stræt better known as Watling Street.

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