Sunday, February 28, 2016

names occupying regions with intense communication hardship

Bear with me once again as I indulge my fondness for map-related trivia. Here's an interesting little website that uses data from the UK electoral roll to pick out hotspots for particular surnames, i.e. regions of the country where that name is statistically over-represented. As the explanatory blog post explains, it's far from infallible, but it's quite interesting nonetheless.

Also interesting is the feature whereby you can put in your name and your spouse's name and see if it can work out where you might have met. As it happens there's absolutely no chance of it identifying where I met my wife, for a couple of reasons - firstly because we met (10 years ago this last New Year's Eve!) in Thornton Heath in south London, somewhere neither of us has ever lived, but secondly, and more interestingly, because the hotspots for our respective pre-marital names, Thomas and Hannant, are about as far apart as it's possible to get in mainland Britain, in terms of east-west separation anyway.

The hotspot on the left, somewhere just a few miles north-east up the River Towy from Carmarthen in west Wales, is the one for Thomas. It's obviously pretty unsurprising that this should be in Wales, although as I understand it most of my forebears lived a bit further east, nearer Cardiff. The Hannant hotspot is a few miles north of Norwich, about a third of the way between Norwich and Cromer. I seem to recall my father-in-law telling me he thought the name was of French origin, although other theories are available, including a possible Scottish origin.

Anyway, thank goodness for increased social mobility, as it would take quite a bit of dedication to sustain a relationship over that distance - even if you're ignoring the exact centres of the hotspots and just going from Carmarthen to Norwich Google Maps reckons it'll take somewhere in the region of five-and-a-half hours to drive, or seven-and-a-half if you're on the train.

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