Place-names and names of natural features visible today on the map of Britain are the result of a long process of naming and renaming by successive linguistic groups.

The oldest are given by the classical sources. Although the vast majority of these are recognisably coined by Celtic speakers, or in a few cases by Latin speakers, there is a small sub-set that cannot be Celtic. These 'fossils' in the Celtic landscape are usually accepted as Indo-European and may therefore have been given by a pre-Celtic Indo-European speaking population.

There have been various attempts to isolate from within this pre-Celtic group names that cannot be explained from Indo-European. No really satisfactory cases have been identified and if the speakers of the earliest Indo-European dialect were preceded in Britain by a non-Indo-European speaking population they have left no linguistic trace that we can recognise.

The Old English names in this section are mainly drawn from the East Midlands and East Anglia. Place-names predominate and although I have tried to give some emphasis to river names their chief interest lies in the possibility that they preserve pre-germanic material.