Gigant Street, Salisbury

Gigant Street is in the centre of Salisbury - it runs from Milford Street to Trinity Street.

‘Gigant Street’ was part of the reason I became interested in Salisbury’s road names. A guy at work relocated to Salisbury and he moved in to a flat in Gigant Street. He asked me what ‘Gigant’ meant[1]. At the time I didn’t know and it made me start to wonder about all the odd words and names we take for granted - Petersfinger, Pennyfarthing Street, the Nadder and many others.

The names ‘Gigant Street’, and the adjacent ‘Love Lane’ date back until at least the 15th Century[2]. But what does ‘Gigant mean?

I found this in ‘Wiltshire Place Names’ by Martyn Whittock:

Another medieval trade is recorded in Fish Row, which was Fisherrowe in 1554. The same is true of Gigant Street where the spelling on 1451 - Gygornstrete - shows that it derives from the Middle English word gigour meaning fiddler[3]

violin Image by User:Frinck51 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Gigour is mentioned in Thomas Oliphant’s ‘The Old and Middle English’ in a chapter entitled ‘Inroad of French Words into English’

We see gigour (violin-player) at p.42; perhaps our jig comes from this[5]

The OED also says the word is French in origin:

Etymology: Old French gigueour, gigue fiddle: see jig n.1

A fiddler.

a1300 K. Horn 1472 Hi sede hi weren harpurs, And sume were gigours. [6]

The ‘Concise Dictionary Of Middle English goes further :

Gigour, sb. musician, S.—OF. giguëor (Low Lat. gigatorem), from OF. gigue (Low Lat. giga), a musical instrument; cp. G. geige, violin.[7]

Nearby roads

Footnotes

[1] He pronounced it ‘Guy-jant’. Locally it’s pronounced ‘jig-ant’

[2] ‘Salisbury: St Martin’s parish’, A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6 (1962), pp. 79-81. URL:http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41784 Date accessed: 20 September 2012.

[3] Wiltshire Place Names,Martyn Whittock, page 122, Countryside Books, 1997 ISBN 1853064866, Amazon Link: Wiltshire Place-names: Their Origins and Meanings (Local History)

[4] There’s no attribution on the Wikimedia page for this photo - the page is: File:Violin nut.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

[5] http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=x4N0PgCiKxsC&lpg=PA557&ots=NL6EAyL0X7&dq=%22gigour%22%20behind%20the%20name&pg=PA557#v=onepage&q=%22gigour%22%20behind%20the%20name&f=false

[6] “† gigour, n.”. OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. 20 September 2012 http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/78253?.

[7] The Concise Dictionary Of Middle English From A.D. 1150 To 1580 By The Rev. A. L. Mayhew, M.A. Of Wadham College, Oxford And The Rev. Walter W. Skeat Link:Middle English Dictionary: G-Q on Gutenburg.org