Pitchcombe: Combe is from the latin for dung and in this instance pitchcombe is the word used for the hurling of dung.In particular cow dung that has dried enough for it to be successfully lifted as a complete circle about the size of a piazza, and then thrown.It is thought that Pitchombe preceded Frisbee as a marketing name, but has since fallen out of common parlance.


I did a book, a very small book, some years ago now. Loosely based on the famous bestseller ” The Meaning of Liff” by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, my book took Gloucestershire place names and gave them their true meaning and derivation. It was great fun to do and the limited numbers that I had printed seemed to go down well. This is one of the pieces from the book. Pitchcombe is over near Stroud, lovely place.

The practice of carefully lifting a cow pat and hurling it like a frisbee, was something that I did indeed used to do when quite young. A risky business, one got to know in due course exactly which ones were ‘feasible’ and which might become a bit of a disaster.

I had not done anything like this since then until a walk with my friend Robin unearthed a cowpat of exactly the right constituency and I could not resist.It lifted in one big circle and flew like a bird. I wished now I’d taken a photo of the event to demonstrate a real ‘Pitchcombe’, so the drawing will have to suffice. Robin will vouch for me, I did hurl it away from us.

These drawings and writings appear in Cotswold Life every month under the title of “Glossary”.

I can recommend sitting in front of a map of your area to give new meanings to place names, a great lockdown activity that anyone can do. Yorkshire is a brilliant area to try, having such place names as Mytholmroyd. Try it!

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