Thursday, 22 April 2010
But out in the countryside, the vast majority of names seem to be functional.
My own theory is that before the gentleman from the Ordnance Survey arrived with his notebook the locals didn't really need to name the different paths through their village. Looking at the common names for a lane on OSM most are either based on an important building (Church Lane, Mill Lane, School Lane, Hall Lane, Rectory Lane,...), or they describe the lane itself (the list of examples like Green Lane, Long Lane, Sandy Lane, Marsh Lane, Water Lane, Broad Lane goes on, and on).
I imagine the surveyor turning up in the pub, putting down his top hat, and asking "what do you call that path, and what do you call that one?" and the ancestors of Eddie Grundy and his mates getting their heads together to think up some suitable names.
"Well that one's stony, and that one goes to the windmill, and the parson wouldn't be happy if we told him what we really call that one, so I suggest we tell him it's called Love Lane". "G'evening your lordship, I'm just telling old Amos here that we ought to name one of these paths after your lovely daughter Holly, who does so much for the poor folk of the parish. That would be very kind sir, I'll just have a pint please."
I've put a list here of the common names for a lane on OSM, ranked by the number of segments and total length.