Mayfield is an ancient place. It was referenced in the Domesday Book of 1086. But its history goes back much further than that, before, even, the County of Staffordshire itself. According to A Survey and Analysis of the Place-Names of Staffordshire by David Horovitz, Mayfield was originally a meeting place. He says
The present study has revealed an intriguing possible cluster of meeting place-names in the Mayfield
area. Mayfield is in north-east Staffordshire hard against the river Dove, which forms the boundary
with Derbyshire. The name Mayfield itself has been held to incorporate Old English mæeddre
'madder' but botanists say that the plant is unlikely here, and the early spellings make a derivation
from Old English moethel 'meeting, council' with Old English feld 'field, open land' quite certain. The
meeting place or places cannot now be identified, but the presence nearby of Harlow (unparalleled in Staffordshire and perhaps from Old English "whole people" (or Viking multitude) so perhaps 'the mound associated with the Vikings', or 'the mound where the people
met' and "mound"
'(Viking) army, host, multitude', but also used for 'the whole people', with Old English hiaw 'mound,
tumulus', so perhaps 'the mound associated with the Vikings', or 'the mound where the people
met')…tending to suggest that at some period in history the area played host to assemblies of some importance.
From the reference to Mayfield in Domesday Book, and the absence in
early records of any mention of meetings here, it can be concluded that the gatherings took place before
the late Anglo-Saxon period, quite possibly before the creation of the county of Stafford, in which case
they may be associated with the people known as the Pecsætan, 'the people of the Peak', mentioned in
the mysterious document known as the Tribal Hidage.
earthworks known as The Cliffs and Hollow Lane have also been recorded in Mayfield.
It may be noted that the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1836 shows that the
Staffordshire boundary then extended beyond the Dove into Derbyshire opposite Church Mayfield. If
the deviation is ancient, it may mark the former course of the river which continued as the county
boundary, or simply reflect the not unusual arrangement whereby one authority has jurisdiction over
both banks at a river crossing, or it may perhaps show that the river Dove served as a territorial
boundary before Staffordshire was created, and two neighbouring peoples met on some neutral
territory on the east side of the Dove
It has been observed that it was a well-established custom for
kings to negotiate with one another on the boundary between their territories. It
may be noted that Matlock in Derbyshire, 18 miles north-east of Mayfield, also incorporates the
element moethel, and stands on an important crossing of the river Derwent. Both Mayfield and Matlock
might be thought of as strategically significant places, and a major river crossing would be a place
where travellers would naturally tend to congregate. The noticeable absence of ancient markets at
meeting places, where trading would otherwise have been expected, might be explained if the meetings
were limited by custom to appropriate representatives to conduct formal legal, judicial and
administrative business, and were not generally attended by non-participants in any numbers, or
because distracting commercial activity or entertainment was discouraged or forbidden.