From a small Middle Ages settlement to a bustling port city, Southampton has been growing and developing for decades. Though its name has been associated with many things over the years—a popular football club, universities, a shopping hub and busy docks—and the whole county of Hampshire derives its title from Southampton, how did the city itself come by its name?
The name Southampton originated in the Middle Ages with the naming of a settlement on the River Itchen as Hamwic or Hamtun, names which are said to have meant ‘the home settlement’ or ‘the settlement on the bend in the river’. At this time, Southampton was being described as a market town and an important point of sale for slaves being sent to European cities like Rome.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
By the middle of the 11th century, ‘South’ had been added on to the existing name of Hamtun, forming the approximation we know today as Southampton. The spelling of this has changed over time with shifts in language. For example, in the Middle Ages, South was often spelled ‘Suth’, with residents referred to as ‘men of Suthamton’.
Southampton became a well-established name for the growing city: in the late 11th century after the Norman conquest of England, Southampton Castle was constructed; the 15th century saw the hatching of the Southampton Plot; and in the late 19th century, the city’s football club became known as Southampton FC.
The city also grew in prosperity and national importance throughout the centuries. After the Norman Conquest, it became a major port of transit between Winchester and Normandy, and the 14th and 15th centuries saw the fortification of the city walls, which can still be visited today. The Mayflower departed from Southampton in 1620 and the city later became a fashionable spa town in the Georgian era. Finally, in 1912, it was the point from which the ill-fated Titanic set sail.
Southampton has commonly been referred to as ‘Soton’ for many years, which has caused much confusion. Appearing on road signs, newspaper headlines and just in common parlance, ‘Soton’ is the popular abbreviation for the city, whose full name can be a bit of a mouthful. The coining of this nickname can be credited to a local newspaper, the Daily Echo. Struggling to fit the city’s long-winded title into snappy news headlines, they began using ‘Soton’, as well as ‘Sotonians’ to describe the residents of Southampton. Exactly when this first started to happen is a much-deliberated question. In the 1950s, the first occurrence was described as having happened ‘years ago’ in a report by the Daily Echo.
However, the use of this abbreviation hasn’t always been popular and was condemnedby the late Norman Scholfield, Southampton’s former town clerk, as ‘literary slovenliness’. Despite this, the nickname is still popularly used, particularly in the social media of the city’s establishments, such as the University of Southampton and the Southampton Women’s FC.
Whether it is referred to as ‘Soton’ or Southampton, the name of this diverse city has a rich and interesting history. Perhaps in future years it will continue to shift, and the name Southampton will fade into obscurity as Hamtun did before it.
This article was written in association with Wessex Scene, a student publication based at the University of Southampton.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.